When my ninety-seven year old mother was visiting at Christmas and she missed her supper-time meds because we were out one evening, I was concerned about her taking them when we got home, and then taking her bedtime ones shortly after. She, of course, had no such concerns, “They’re only a vitamin,” she said.
After she’d gone to bed I took to Google to see what I could find out about these “vitamins” that she was on. Because she lives in a Retirement Home rather than a Long-term Care Facility, her family isn’t informed of any additions or changes to her medications. My brother had asked her doctor recently if any of her meds could be the cause of her very recent and quick onset of dementia. He was assured that it was simply old age and the drugs had nothing to do with it.
We knew that she was on a mild anti-depressant (“nerve pill” as she calls it) as she has suffered from bouts of severe depression for most of her life. But, I was appalled to learn through my research that she was not only on two anti-depressants, but also an anti-psychotic medication, called risperidone.
When we took her home after the holidays, I asked the nurse at the Retirement Home, why Mom was on an anti-psychotic. Her response was “It was prescribed when she was getting really anxious.” She agreed that it might not be necessary and she’d ask the doctor about prescribing something else to be given only when needed rather than every day.
It was an item on the Global News program 16 x 9, a couple of weeks later, that caught my attention this time. More precisely, the words “Risperidone”, “Anti-psychotic” and “Nursing Homes.”
It seems that recently there has been an uproar in BC over the routine use of anti-psychotic drugs to “calm” the residents, some to the point of making them zombie-like, despite Health Canada warnings that these drugs should NOT be given to patients with dementia. It wasn’t until the children of some of these people began to ask questions and insist that they be taken off these meds, that an investigation began and new methods of calming the distressed, such as physical and mental stimulation, were introduced with great success. Changes are being introduced throughout the province of BC, but the practice of using the drugs is still prevalent in other provinces of this great country.
I understand that at ninety-seven Mom doesn’t have a long life expectancy, but she still deserves to live her last days with dignity. If her medications are causing her to no longer care about the things that were important to her, such as her personal grooming, then it’s time to take a stand.
The lesson here is that we Baby Boomers need to insist on being informed about our elderly parents’ health care and medications, just the way we did when our children were young.
Who would have thought that the day would come when parents would live long enough to become the children?
To get the whole story go to: Global News, Nursing homes routinely administer anti-psychotics