People with diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be unpredictable in their moods, actions, and thoughts. The symptoms of dementia, like memory loss and trouble concentrating, can make it hard to reason with the person about their behavior because they might not remember acting out, or they might not see themselves as wrong. This unpredictable nature can lead to behavioral or safety issues if the patient is not properly monitored and supervised.
If your loved one is in a long-term facility, you should always pay attention to the care that they’re receiving. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a real possibility. Most patients with dementia require extra attention and care. Keep reading to find out what form negligence takes for nursing home patients with dementia so that you know what to look for in your loved one.
Neglect Warning Signs for Dementia Patients
When you entrust the care of your loved one with dementia to a long-term facility, you expect them to be treated as well as you would treat them. Although we know that abuse happens to all kinds of patients in nursing homes due to overcrowding and understaffing, research and studies show that dementia patients are more likely to be victims of neglect and other forms of abuse.
While the common signs of neglect for elderly patients could still appear, when the patient has dementia, the neglect could manifest in unique ways because of their condition. Here are the signs that nursing home patients with dementia are being neglected:
- Reduced verbal communication
- Worsening health
- Fear of care
- Development or worsening of mood swings
- Increased and worsening dementia symptoms
Some of these symptoms could be the cause of overmedication of antipsychotics, a practice used by nursing home staff members to make their shifts easier by making the patients more docile.
How Common is Overmedication?
Giving antipsychotic drugs to nursing home residents who don’t have mental illnesses is a method used by staff to wrongly sedate dementia patients. An article by Human Rights Watch reports that in a week, United States nursing facilities administer antipsychotics to 179,000 patients who do not have diagnoses which require the drugs.
The staff does this so that they don’t have to give the patients as much care and attention as would usually be needed if the patient was alert. On wrongly administered antipsychotics, the dementia patient cannot communicate, or becomes unconscious, so they cannot speak up and ask for care, even when they need it.
Most nursing homes fail to adequately fully inform patients or their family members when administering the drugs. Staff doesn’t explain the risks and most often just give them to the patient first, then informs later. This contradicts federal regulations that say a patient must be informed prior to being given medication because they have the right to refuse it. When patients’ rights aren’t respected, they may become a victim of abuse, and you should seek legal help.
Although minimal doses of antipsychotic medications can benefit dementia patients, they should only be used when appropriate, and should not be used to sedate. Even though dementia patients experience a decline from their condition, when they’re overmedicated on antipsychotics, they can decline even faster.
How to Help Your Loved One with Dementia
If you believe your loved one is being neglected in their long-term care facility, you should speak with staff and management as your first step. When they don’t take action to fix the problem, then you should turn to a nursing home abuse lawyer. In Charleston, WV, DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, will fight to defend the rights of you or your loved one, and ensure that nobody else will have to suffer the same neglect. Reach out today to learn more about what we can do for you. Instances of negligence can look very different for nursing home residents with dementia. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, here are the warning signs to look out for.