Menard, IL- Some residents in nursing homes need to be restrained because they pose a danger to themselves and others. While this is a legitimate use of restraint, there are instances in which nursing homes are using a restraint other than straps to make their patients immobile and keep them under control. The use of antipsychotic drugs to restrain patients has become a common practice, but it us putting the health of and life of that individual in danger.

According to the Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, approximately 20 percent of nursing home residents are given anti-psychotics. Close to 40 percent of nursing home residents who are given these drugs suffer from dementia.

It is no longer legal to physically restrain a patient except for extreme cases so nursing homes, which are increasingly understaffed, rely on anti-psychotic drugs to help keep residents sedated and under their control. Many believe the use of anti-psychotics in nursing homes has increased as inadequate staffing has become a major issue.

Anti-psychotics can keep a patient from talking or moving therefore they are commonly used to chemically restrain a patient. Often the nursing home resident is left in a drug-induced stupor or remains asleep for most of the day. This may be convenient for staff at a facility, but it violates the patient’s basic human rights and is certainly way for a person to spend their golden years.

Anti-psychotics such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Abilify are typically used to treat people suffering from schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. However, doctors are increasingly prescribing these drugs to treat young people with behavioral disorders adults with insomnia and nursing home residents suffering from dementia without carefully considering the dangers.

While a patient and their families have to approve the use of any drug in the long-term care facility, they trust the opinions of doctors, nurses and administrators and may not be completely aware of the dangers associated with the overuse of anti-psychotics. It is also very easy for a nursed to increase the dosages of these drugs in order to keep a patient chemically restrained.

There is strong evidence that shows the use of anti-psychotics on dementia patients can cause a range of health issues an in the worst case, hasten their death. Use of anti-psychotics in dementia patients can increase their risk of stroke. Recently, the FDA said that there is an increased risk of death for dementia patients taking anti-psychotics and issued a “Black Box” warning, and stated that there are no approved drugs that can treat dementia induced psychosis.

Patient who are given anti-psychotics are prone to falls and an increased likelihood of developing respiratory infections. The prevalent use of anti-psychotics can also have an impact on patient’s mental health as they lose independence and remain too sedated to participate in activities or engage with their families and friends.

The use of chemical restraints is generally forbidden, but too often nursing homes use this as a substitute for individualized care and adequate staffing.