Over-sedating seniors is an unfortunate practice that is sometimes used to restrain a person’s freedom of movement. Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives are illegal to use in this manner if they aren’t prescribed as a treatment for medical conditions.  Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch estimates that each week approximately 179,000 residents of nursing homes are given antipsychotics without an appropriate diagnosis for dispensing the medication. Here is more information intended to help you better protect your loved one from this problem.

Why is Over-Sedation a Problem?

Sometimes drugs are administered for non-medical purposes to discipline or manage the patient. In such cases, this is often for the convenience of the nursing home staff.  The use of medication in this manner is only allowed if the person is exhibiting behavior that threatens the safety of themselves, staff members, or other residents. Even in these situations, the nature and duration of the drug use must be documented in the person’s medical file.

Not only is it abusive to over-sedate someone without reason, this practice puts nursing home residents at risk for medical complications or even death. Types of drugs used include antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and hallucinogenic anesthetics.

Protecting Your Loved One

It is common for elderly residents to be unaware that they are being “dosed.” If the nursing home staff is following a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality, then it’s up to family and friends to identify the problem and report potential issues.

When a loved one is under the supervision of a caregiver, it’s essential to look for potential signs of over-sedation or other signs of abuse. Listen when the person is trying to tell you something. Watch for behavioral changes, such as physical appearance, moodiness, or drastic changes in sleep. Talk to the staff about therapy or medications that are being used.

If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of over-sedation, contact the proper authorities. For more information, you are welcome to contact us at any time. Email info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org or call 858-480-7551. Senior Safe and Sound.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.