About 1 in 3 patients with dementia who live in nursing homes are being sedated with antipsychotic drugs, the GAO says. Outside nursing homes, about 1 in 7 dementia patients are getting the risky drugs.
Marian Grunwald (from left), Earl Elfstrom and Verna Matheson bounced a balloon back and forth with nursing assistant Rick Pavlisich on Dec. 13, 2013, at an Ecumen nursing home in Chisago City, Minn.
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Antipsychotic drugs aren't necessary in the vast majority of dementia cases, gerontologists say. The pills can be stupefying and greatly raise the risk of falls — and hip fracture.
Federal prosecutors allege two nursing homes in California have "persistently and severely overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents." Antipsychotic drugs like risperidone, also known as Risperdal, can be dangerous for elderly people, but are frequently prescribed to nursing home patients.
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A firefighter walks past the Residence du Havre after the fire in L'Isle Verte, Quebec. At least three people died in the blaze at the seniors' home. Early reports were that another 30 people were missing.
Mathieu Belanger /Reuters/Landov