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Are senior citizens being overmedicated?
June 3rd, 2011
09:42 AM ET

Are senior citizens being overmedicated?

Strong, antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed more often to senior citizens in U.S. nursing homes, setting off a debate about whether it's the right treatment for the elderly suffering from dementia.

Daniel Levinson, inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, believes this increase - detailed in a recent study by his office - is a cause for alarm.  "The report found that too often, elderly residents are prescribed antipsychotic drugs in ways that violate government standards for unnecessary drug use," he wrote in a commentary for CNN.com.

Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat disagrees, saying the study Levinson cites is a "blizzard of statistics" that doesn't tell the entire story.  "When these drugs are successful, they soothe the inner turmoil that makes life intolerable for these patients, improving their quality of life dramatically," Carlat wrote in his commentary for CNN.com.

The conflicting guidance is making it even more difficult for those trying to make sure their aging loved ones are getting the best care during the final years of their lives.  Laura Steckler, a Florida resident, recently sought treatment for her elderly mother after she suffered an episode of paranoia and hallucinations.  She tells CNN how she found herself in the middle of the debate over how much is too much medication for the elderly:   

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Filed under: Medications • Mental Health

soundoff (398 Responses)
  1. David

    I worked in a "long term care facility" in Western Massachusetts in the 1980s. I believe it's now called Hampshire County Long Term Care Facility. It was essentially a nursing home with hospital standards. I was a teenager at that time, and I worked in the kitchen after school and on the weekends. Even though I had no medical qualifications, even I was aware of what happened to patients after they were admitted. After just a few short weeks, the patients were so drugged up to "help them relax and stay calm" they no longer had the same personality as when they arrived. I was just a kid, but it was obvious to me what was happening. Everyone that worked there, in any department, knew this was standard operating procedure. I can't believe the question of "are they being overmedicated?" is even being asked some 30 years later. The simple answer; of course they are. It's the way a very sad situation has been handled for decades. Patients that "act up" by yelling random things over and over again from their rooms, or crying, or trying to get out of their chair or room, are drugged up even more to keep things "manageable" for the RNs, LPNs, and aides. This was how things were in a facility with strict standards, so I can't imagine how things might be handled at some nursing homes. If you're young and reading this here's some advice; try to take care of yourself the best you can through a good diet and exercise so you might avoid ever ending up in one of these places. It's certainly not what I would call "living."

    June 4, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Len

      David those are wise words, I watch this with my Mother and it was horrible! All you need to do is go spend a few hours in a rest home and hopefully it will make you change how you live your life.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      I too worked in a long term critical care facility and in a nursing home. I am a respiratory therapist, allot of my patients where being kept alive by vetilators. If you think you can do a better job by taking care of a grandma that "acts up", as you say, through a good diet and excersize, I feel real sorry for grandma.
      When they "act up", by yelling and crying it is often accompianed by violence. And yes, the simple act of trying to stand up, in some cases can kill them. To prevent them from hurting themselves or others, sometimes they need medication, need 24 hours of care a day. I personally think that rather then let even a mild mannered grandma, sit in her chair and quietly whimper the day away, medication is an answer. We had a saying in our turn over of patient care to oncoming therapists, "The patient is pleasently confused". Better have happy but wondering why these nice people come into her "home" all the time, than crying out in pain and misery. Better to have them sedated then to have them quietly smearing thier feces over themselves, the bed, the walls, thier roomates. Better to be in a more controlled environment taking care of 15 to 20 patients then having to deal with the 4 or 5 that are having little "act ups" and ignoring the rest. And guess what, when you long term severe pain, you need pain meds. Sometimes there is no choice and they become addicted. If you got a better idea (other that a good diet) I'd love to hear it.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • AngrySon

      My mother was sent to a "rehab" facility following surgery for a broken hip. I no longer remember just how long she was there, but it was at least several months. While there, she fell again and re-broke the same hip. It soon became obvious to me that, if any rehabilitation was to take place, it depended solely upon the patient. The young and strong made sure that they received the physical therapy that was supposed to be performed while there.

      On the other hand, it became apparent to me that the elderly were essentially being "warehoused". It was only by casual conversation with an aide that my brother and I found out that she was being fed Ritalin, without her or our knowledge. On top of that, Medicare/Medicaid were billed for "services" that usually consisted of a staff doctor looking in for a minute or two and asking "how are you". The place was run like a mill for squeezing profits from the taxpayers.

      The orthopedic surgeon who'd treated my mother was a wonderful doctor, as was her primary care physician. However, the rules of the system did not allow either of them to call upon her in the rehab facility. If she was to be seen by either of them (each within one mile of the facility), it was necessary to transport her to their offices.

      Mom died while my brother and I were in the midst of a search for an alternative facility.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • christine

      it isn't the 80's anymore

      June 4, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse |
    • Hmm

      Hey David, not disagreeing with what you and others have to say but I hope you were posting from a public computer and used a fake name otherwise you are now likely liable.

      Remember folks, like your SSN, your computer IP and MAC addresses also tell the powers-that-be who and where you are. Good luck!

      June 4, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • David

      Steven,

      My advice won't do anything for grandma, but might do something for her daughter or granddaughter, eh? My point of writing about my experience is that the question "are they overmedicated?" is ridiculous. Of course they are. Do I "got a better idea"? Yes, and it's preventative, so here it is: The majority of Americans, meaning the overweight, lazy ones that never exercise and overindulge in processed foods need to wake up and realize they are the ones creating majority of the health crisis in the U.S. Try eating unprocessed, whole foods they way they come from nature. Try drinking water instead of soda, even diet soda (the favorite drink of the obese, so they can kid themselves they're "trying"). Take some responsibility for your situation and stop running to the doctor every time your back hurts because, after all, it's caused by that extra forty or fifty pounds hanging off your gut. This group of people is overwhelmingly, and increasingly, responsible for the health epidemic in this Country. Until there's a dramatic reduction in the prevalence of obesity, stories like this will be making headlines on CNN for decades to come. Ask any doctor what the #1 causal, and avoidable, characteristic of a sick patient is and they will almost certainly tell you..."obesity."

      June 4, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • David

      "Hmm" Liable? What a joke. The MDs writing the prescriptions aren't being held liable, you think some kid slinging hash and potatoes in the kitchen of one of these places is? Wake up.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Hmm

      Hey David, the docs have nothing to lose in keeping those prescriptions (unwarranted or otherwise) coming, after all they get kickbacks from the largest companies (outside of big oil) in the world. And even w/o those kickbacks, there is some profit there for all involved. You, on the other hand, are pointing the finger at that entire private or state ran operation. One where there is likely 100s of employees that are dedicated, and unaware of any ill doing, including those that may be administering said medications. This country has seen people get prison time and be levied hefty fines for the accusations you're making but coming from someone that used to take out the trash and mop some floors 20 years ago, I'll take your authoritative word on it. I am sure your high school education gave you the tools you needed at the time to diagnose almost any condition, and how to treat it.

      Ding, fries are done.

      June 5, 2011 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
  2. Lily

    It's not just happening to seniors who are in nursing homes! My best friend was 82 years old when she became addicted to prescription drugs (thanks to her doctor prescribing too many medicines) and had to be detoxed for as an inpatient for weeks! That is how she spent the last year of her life, after having lived an exemplary lifestyle up until then.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. simple guy

    Doctors are OVER medicating everyone, every time you go to any doctor before you finish telling them why you are there they already have a prescription wrote handing it to you and and the next patient is coming in the door. Most doctor today are there ONLY for the money, the more patients they get in and out the door the better. We need some old fashion doctors who want the patient WELL not a regular monthly customer.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Pharmaceutical Windfall

    Drug companies make doctors rich. Take 2 and call me in the morning.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AngrySon

      I don't believe that is at all the case. Every good doctor under whose care I have ever been has prescribed medication without careful evaluation of its efficacy in my case. They're not anxious to create a chemical confusion wherein they've got to decide whether an effect is an actual symptom of ailment or is a side effect of a drug.

      If you think anyone's reaping a windfall from pharmaceuticals, look to your pharmacist. The retail markup on drugs is often anywhere from 200% to 1,000%. If there really is such a thing as "Big Pharma", it's right down the street at your local Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, etc. Why do you think they can justify so many of them (pharmacies), often right across the street from each other.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Skute

      Doctors don't make a dime from what they prescribe. Not a penny, and never have. I'm in nursing homes everyday. In the nursing home setting these drugs being used cost pennies per pill. All generics. And the philosophy of whether a nursing home is a heavily medicated home has more to do with the director of nursing than the doctors who visit once or twice a week. It's to me interesting how different the vibe inside the different homes. I believe the LTC facilities with clear hallways, and no residents wandering the hallways tend to be the heavily medicated places. Then there are the homes with residents scattered all over the place. Making noise, in the hallways, in the day rooms, siting in wheel chairs through the home, and these are the non heavily medicated homes. Now ask yourself, if your were to survey both homes for your parent, would you choose the more orderly quite home because it seems peaceful? Or would you choose the less orderly home where it's loud and seems out of control? I myself think the secret is great staff, high energy, and a noisy LTC. Stay healthy my friends.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
  5. Elizabeth

    No kidding our seniors are being overmedicated with this pharmacological crap. My elderly grandmother was overloaded with these, went into a psychotic hallucination and jumped out of her own 3rd story window. They need to find different alternatives than loading our seniors with these meds, many of which have side effects that resemble the disease they are trying to treat.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. gpa1tim

    I think 'qwerty' hit the nail on the head. There's just a lot of people out there whose idea of taking care of therselves is to go see a doctor.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. t

    I currently work in a nursing home where we take care of a range of elderly patients. We do are best to safely take care of the ones with alzheimers and dementia without have to medicate them with strong drugs but sometimes for the safey of themselves, other residents, and staff it is required that they be on stronger medications. I have seen too many times were a dementia patient becomes violent and confused to the point where they do harm to themselves unknowingly. Even with pleanty of staff you can't moniter each patient 24 hours a day. I believe when it comes to this point the stronger medications are needed. We work closely with the doctors and the familes to make sure the paitent isn't being completely sedated by these medications. I believe if you were to experience these situations first hand you would understand. And not all nursing homes are awful places. Its unforunate that the ones that are give all of us bad reps.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jjj4567

      I have worked with patients like this and what struck me then was that some of our nursing staff could calm the patients and some made things worse. I tried hard to copy the ones who were calming, but I left the job before I really got it. I think it would make a lot of sense to really study the way that the calming staff did their job so that others could learn.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • christine

      thank you for saying this....long term care is the second most regulated industry...and they wonder why we are burnt out taking care of mom...accusations like this and rude comments is what makes me feel so unappreciated despite the hard work we do....

      June 4, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
  8. Jeepers

    Yes. We're all a bunch of guinea pigs. If you have to choose between food and medicine...choose food. Choose good, healthy food.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • simple guy

      AMEN brother.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  9. Anja

    It is not always the fault of the nursing home or doctor. Family members come prepared with print outs from drug sites and from wikipedia demanding drugs for their loved ones because they read that it would help. They demand, fight, yell, threaten and scream until the doctor finally gives in and orders the medicine. Family members need to let the doctors do their work and try to let the trained professionals do what they have been licensed to do. Interfering with care by demanding the addition of unnecessary drugs does very little to improve an elderly patients health.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SRhoades

      No ethical doctor would prescribe a drug for someone because of a Wikipedia site...if they do, they're not a doctor! The people in the medical community have overdrugged seniors and young people alike for years. The drug companies push drugs in a hurry to get it out on the market and make money. Like Jesse Ventura says, "Follow the money." That's where it is. Cancer won't be cured anytime soon...there's too much money involved in it. Thousands of people would lose their jobs if they found a cure for cancer, it's big business! And so is elderly care. When you "follow the money," you find the root of the problem.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • Fred1369

      HI, Anja, how ya doing? Fancy meeting you here. I am a pharmacist and while I do not work in a LTC facility I do fill many Rx's for them. I really want to call up the doctors and tell them that a patient should not be on 20-30 Rx drugs but, since I want to keep my job, I just bang my head on the counter top.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  10. Jeremy Mills

    Why does every other issue in this country have to result in over dramatic, fear mongering, hysteria. News flash. This is the safest and healthiest time to be alive in human history. Modern science and medicine has added decades of health to most of out lives. Are their some people who over-mericate? Of course, but if this is the issue that is causing the false hysteria I see here, then I think we should all thank God for being alive in a time where this is the worst thing people can think to complain of. Don't like modern science and modern medicine? Go back to the 17th century and see how you like that!

    June 4, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • simple guy

      How many of you know someone that always takes a flu shot and stays sick the whole winter ? One of my grandmothers would always take it (and always got the flu) and the other would never take it (and never had the flu) guess who lived the longest ? The one that always took the flu shot live to seventy-three and the one who refused to lived to be NINETY-EIGHT ! I NEVER take it and guess what I have never had the flu and NEVER had a bad cold.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • chimerstry

      People care about this issue specifically they don't want to go back to the 17th century. Modern medicine is a significant portion of our government spending, with Medicare. If you haven't noticed, our government might default on its loans. Are people hysterical because they don't want our government to waste money while it's in debt? Or are they being prudent with their money?

      No, over-medication is not the worst problem of our time. It is a weight against, and a contributor, to the worst problem of our time.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • BN

      Guess what? I've had the flu and gastroenteritis contracted at the local Rite Aid when I didn't get a flu shot. I've had the flu shot and been sick for a few weeks in the fall afterward. I've had the flu shot and been the picture of health all fall, winter and spring. Taking the flu shot should not cause the flu, and there are other illnesses that mimic "the flu" which the flu shot does not prevent. Get a grip.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  11. Johnny

    Our entire society, from children to seniors are over medicated.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Hugh Jorgens

    One reason physicians are against medical marijuana is that when people smoke weed they relax, get a better view of things and stop running to the doctor for every little boo-boo they get. In short, they can't make money off it, therefore it's "bad" for someone. I.E. the doctor and his bottom line.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Cindy

    Our society expects A magic pill that will cure all ailments iinstantly. The things we need to do we will not or can not take the time to do them. Keep in mind that much of medicine is experimental-what works for Jane may not work for Joe. Are we overmedicating our elderly? There are no easy answers anymore than there are easy fixes......and life goes on until it ceases as we know it.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Suzy

    I worked in a long-term care facility. You're darn right seniors are overmedicated. They're given drugs to make them urinate and other drugs to make them not urinate so much. Drugs to wake them up, drugs to put them to sleep at night. Big Pharm is the one getting rich over all this, and many doctors are in Big Pharm's pocket. Even if you care for these poor people, you can't say anything, because the doctors say they know everything and you know nothing.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Me

    Are the elderly being over medicated. Wow there's a story *rolls eyes*, OF COURSE THEY ARE! Who do you think is the pharmaceuticals biggest profit?!? Them and children with all the labels being thrown about lately.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. DEEJ

    Are we overmedicating seniors? How about 'we are overmedicating everyone'. Here take this medicine...

    June 4, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Danny

    My opinion is this; With all our societal and family and daily issues we have to deal with as well as our unhealthy lifestyles of many, we go to the doctors or emergency rooms or clinics and they are more than happy to address a symptom. There-in lies the problem. If a person has 10 complaints or symptoms they will usually end up with 10 prescriptions sometimes from different doctors or sources and they just continue to use them and get them refilled. The answer of course is whole health treatment but this not only requires the doctors and other sources for health to buy in but the person seeking treatments as well. This would of course require lifestyle changes and diet and proper exercise as well as possibly a psychologist or
    psychiatrist and things like that. The problem with that is we are looking for some instant fix to make us feel better in the moment. The thing is the drug companies are more than eager and willing to push us all onto advertised quick fixes as it translates to billions of dollars in profits and they inundate us and the doctors with many exaggerated claims as to the actual benefits of their products in order to get everyone to buy in. Sometimes they even give free trials to get us in (much like pushers on the street the only difference is one is legal and the other is not). Lifestyle change and public information and education about such things are vary necessary to ever change this direction they are taking us.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Redeye Dog

    I believe this is the wrong question!

    Considering that modern heath care today consists of a visit to your doctor where you might get a word or two in. Then sitting down and watching your doctor input information. If you are lucky, the doctor might touch you to check if you are alive and then you probably leave with a prescription. So the question should be:

    Are we over medicating the nation?

    June 4, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. duke13

    If things are so bad, why are seniors living much longer today than 30-40 years ago?

    June 4, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • simple guy

      if you call living in a nursing home the last decade of your live all drugged out like a zombie "living".

      June 4, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • DEEJ

      Living longer does not mean that they are getting only the medication they need.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
  20. Rebecca S.

    Nursing homes and hospitals alike can use sedative drugs as a management tool. I have seen first-hand the results on several elderly dementia/Alzheimer nursing home residents who started out walking when they came to the nursing home but then were placed in a wheel chair or jerry chair to avoid falls. When the resident didn't like being confined, they were given drugs to manage their behavior.

    What I noticed the most was that if there was not a family advocate intervening when necessary to protect the resident from being over-drugged and acting on the resident's behalf and best-interest, the drugging continued. I often saw some residents in what I can only describe as a "catatonic-like" state. My first thoughts were, "But by the grace of God go I."

    What I would ask of nursing home and hospital facilities is, "If this were you or if this were your mother or father, would you want to live each day of the rest of your life drugged an unaware?" At that point, is there really a purpose of being alive?

    Sure, there is a place for something that could help an individual relax but there is a fine line between medicine that relaxes and medicine that is so overwhelming that it takes what little life an individual has left and overcomes them to a point of no longer being able to enjoy what life is left for them.

    In my opinion, there needs to be a required independent medical voice in each nursing facility and hospital that monitors, observes, and has the ability to intervene on the behalf of any resident or patient that appears to be over-medicated at any time.

    The question should be placed before the citizens of the United States at large, "When you are older and no longer have control of your life and you have no input into the decisions that are being made for you, do you want to be treated with respect, consideration, and in a manner that best benefits you or do you want decisions to be made for you by people who are there to perform a job, who don't really know you, and who want things to run as smoothly for them as possible?"

    For me and my loved-ones, I choose the former.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jim

    I'm an only child and was the primary caregiver for both my parents for the last several years of their lives. My mom had to go temporarily into a health care center a few times (e.g., after surgery, etc.), and she was definitely over medicated there. What I saw going on there was akin to what I saw going on when I worked in a health care facility, and in fact it's akin to what some parents of infants and young children do: If the patient (or baby or child) is too difficult to deal with, medicate them so they become easier to manage. The benefit is for the staff (or parents), of course. Whatever my mom was being given messed her up, and she came back to her normal after she was out of the facility and was off the meds they'd added to her normal prescription med regimen. The problem is money and time. There's not enough staff in health care facilities to give each resident the attention she really needs, and additional staff costs money. I therefore think the ideal approach would be to come up with better medications, i.e., meds that can make patients easier to manage without impairing each patient's cognitive abilities, normal functioning, and overall mental and physical health. And the staff and physicians HAVE TO LISTEN to the feedback of their elderly patients' adult children. If I say my mom's all messed up when she takes medication X, don't ignore me or think all you need to do is see if the unwanted side effect is listed in your books! Change the medication or decrease the dosage; don't be a health care system drone.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Vanessa

    My mom is overmedicated and she thinks it is all necessary. All I see is that it is ruining what's left of her health and killing her. Once I went through the list of medications and found two separate paids that specifically said not to use with each other. I went to her next dr's appointment with her to bring it up. One medication was changed and I was poo-poo'ed for worrying about the other one.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. PeterD

    Absolutely Yes. We are slow poisioning them.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. SRhoades

    I've worked in home health care and there is definitely a problem. People who are coming back from surgery are dying. They're overmedicated and unable to recover, they're so drugged up! Simple surgeries. The only ones profiting from this are the drug companies and the funeral homes.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • simple guy

      My sister-in law went to a well know hospital in Cleveland Ohio for a hysterectomy because she thought she would be safer there and after the operation the nurse gave her the wrong medicine and it shut her kidneys down and she spent the last five years of her life on kidney dialysis and died this past January. She was only fifty-eight.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  25. Len

    It's to the point that if a Doctor gives it to you then it's ok to take? So after that 2nd or 3rd bottle of Vicodin and your now addicted to it then what happens? These types of drugs are more of a problem then ever before! So many people are addicted to the opiate drug family. Doctors don't know everything!

    June 4, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. palintwit

    I don't know about our seniors, but Sarah Palin certainly seems overmedicated every time she opens her mouth.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. srichey

    We are all over-medicated.
    Visit a nursing and go see your future (and that's if you are lucky).

    June 4, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. SRhoades

    I've encouraged my elderly parents to see a chiropractor when they're not feeling well. At least they're not pushing drugs! I felt at my best health-wise when I was seeing one on a regular basis...sinus infections, migraines, and nightly leg cramps all disappeared. And without any drugs. Now without health insurance, I can't afford it. But I remember how good I felt without the pain, and without the drugs!

    June 4, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Eli

    If I live to be 100, I pretty much have the intention of over-medicating myself like a Hollywood socialite.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kenzh

    We're over medicating ourselves, period. Ever heard of ritalin? viagra? clalis? You want the rest of these frankendrugs? Just turn on your tv.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. simple guy

    Have you noticed every "new" drug that comes on the market within about two to five years you always see a commercial that says " Have you or your love one taking this drug and been hurt or died from it ? Call our law office for a class action lawsuit."

    June 4, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. mark

    Grandma remembers people better before pill time than after

    June 4, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Larry

    We needed a study to find out seniors are overmedicated? No news there. And it's not just seniors, every age group in our society is overmedicated, including children. And much of the fault lies with the people, and in the case of children, the parents. People in general are not very smart, and seems everyone wants a pill as a cureall.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. hustlenflo

    Paul Ryan's Republican plan to gut Social Security and Medicare will eliminate the problem of "overmedication." When seniors no longer have food or medication – they will be free to die with dignity. The Republicans will issue vouchers that will give the relatives a 10% discount on caskets. Problem solved.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Susan

    My mom was heavily medicated to manage symptoms of alzheimers, and I was able to hire an in-home caregiver, have a relationship with her and have her in my life until she died at age 92. I completely agree with Dr. Carlat that "When these drugs are successful, they soothe the inner turmoil that makes life intolerable for these patients, improving their quality of life dramatically." This issue, as with all issues, has to do with taking responsibility for yourself, the ones you love who can't and thinking critically.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. mejazzbo

    Not just seniors. Everyone in America is being overmedicated. If doctors can't drug you or cut you it must be psychological, and we have a pill for that too. Insurance won't support anything else.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. LuEleison

    Never mind the elderly being over medicated, so are their care givers. Ma doesn’t need all those oxys delivered by the bundle to the door every week – I do! The family leaves it all to me to make sure my mother is taken care of, despite my past history as a drug addict and alcoholic with depression and anxiety issues.
    This is tough!

    June 4, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Barbara

    My dad passed away last year, was never in a nursing home, but was definitely over prescribed medication. I think the side effects killed him. My mother learned a lot from that and she (as well as me and my sibling) has decided that if we have a medical problem that isn't serious we'll put up with the pain or whatever – no medication unless it is necessary for life. I do have a great doctor who told me once that the more meds you take, the more side effects you will deal with, so the less amount of meds the better. As for nursing homes, sure they over medicate to subdue their patients. It is a shame that laws make family members "live" like this. Human beings should have the right to die with dignity when all hope for a decent quality of life is lost.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jean

    They were under-medicated for so long, they have lots of catching up to do!

    June 4, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. linda

    My mother takes 6 different types of medicine, she is so weak and tired, dizzy, weird dreams, and falls asleep while talking to you, among other things all the time. Mother is 83 and has always been in good health. I go online and show her that the medicines she is taking has all these side affects. My sister and I have ask her to quit taking all her medicines for a month and see if she doesn't feel better. We think she would. Of course we mention to check with her doctors before she does. But her reply is I need them all. I beleive the doctors have her beleiving she needs them all. Or she is thinking this is what is helping her live longer.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. ak

    Around 50% of foster kids are given psychotropic drugs. The cattle (goyum) exist to be milked then sent to slaughter.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. gg/lpn

    Medicare is partly to blame. Medicare will be forcing doctors to take decreased reimbursement if they don't electronically prescribe x amount of prescriptions for x amount of time to those on Medicare. So...what happens? Many physicians will be giving their patients prescriptions they won't need.
    I also worked in a long-term care facility and hope to return to work in a nursing home from a surgeon's office. I can see both sides of the story. More than not, most nurses want their patients comfortable.For example; I know there are some nursing homes who readily give Haldol, an antiphyschotic, to calm patients when they are not out of control. I also know there are some residents that need it when the agitation first arises. I have seen a resident not get it, just to proceed to hit another resident. This gentlemen was very strong and bruised our elderly female resident a good bruise and laceration.
    My brother is mentally challenged and also lives in a residential facility. So, I understand from the perspective of a nurse and sister. The best advice is this, if your loved one is in a care facility (whether residential/assisted living/nursing home) TAKE THE TIME to check on them. Show up unexpected at different times. If you are the POA, ask to see their MAR (med list) on a regular basis.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. David55

    not just the old, America overmedicates everyone.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Bhupesh Rathod

    If people are so worried about over medications, they should act like responsible sons and daughters, and take care of their elderly demented parents, Leaving them under someone else's care, and expecting them to do that for you is never going to work, they will never love them or care for them the way we could. Its easy for people to blame nursing homes, or hospitals for over medications, but when it comes to our own responsibility to our parents, we do not want to do it. I work in a community hospital, I have seen so many elderly patients left in hospital, wondering when their relatives would visit, but most of the times no one shows up. Our parents are our responsibility not that of the state, or the nursing home. The best way to avoid all these problems is to own up to our responsibility and take care or our parents, just the way they took care of us, when we depended on them.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • christine

      well said...only thing is lots of time we the staff love the patients more and it isn't appreciated......

      June 4, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
  45. DanDee

    I just read most of this discussion. It's very good. so my thanks to all of you. When I first heard of "healthcare reform" this issue was one of the things I hoped would be covered by a new law. Apparently not, because the topic has instead become "who'll pay how much for what?" That's important, but healthcare also needs reform on the doctor-patient level. If a patient doesn't genuinely need a certain medicine, it shouldn't be prescribed. Controlling disruptive behavior is the task of prisons and kindergarten classes, not nursing homes and not dotors' offices.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. SS

    Legalize weed and see how many people get off all prescription pills for pain relief and anti depressants. Would really bring down insurance costs–and no nasty long term side effects.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. M

    Whoever is leading this debate has obviously never been on the other end of an elderly patient's fist. Yes, we as a society are generally over medicated – the pharmacy industry is out of control but the reality is that those in residential facilities often times need medications in order to maintain a relatively decent quality of life. And other times those medications are needed to protect those working with the resident because their behavior is volatile and often violent without provocation.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Dick Davenport

    All you pontificating geniuses against mood drugs for dementia have never dealt with this condition for months on end. If you have then give us who are currently dealing with it your miraculous other options. Otherwise keep your ignorant opinions to yourselves. These drugs save lives as there would be so many murders without them. Thank goodness we have these drugs.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. sdb

    Seniors are over medicated I see both sides of it if you really want to make a diff my mother is 88 and lives with me so I can monitor all her meds that way no one will be giving her anyting w/o my knowledge, and when she has been in a home i was there everyday checking on her care and drugs, it is sad you have to do that but its the only way I know how to make sure my mom gets the proper care....we only get 1.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. MrObvious

    The real question here is "Are we overmedicating EVERYONE!?" And the answer is yes. When the AMA even admits that medicine is the third leading cause of death in the US... the answer is a resounding yes. Eat healthy, whole foods. Exercise. Don't put processed garbage food in your mouth. Live healthy and avoid medications at all costs.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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