Category Archives: Alzheimer’s Safety

Report: Nursing Home Patients Given Potentially Lethal Anti-Psychotics

Is Medicare paying for nursing homes to give patients with dementia powerful, non-approved, and potentially lethal “atypical” anti-psychotic drugs?

According to a recent highly critical report from the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the answer is yes…

The auditors found that 83 percent of antipsychotic prescriptions for elderly nursing home residents were for uses not approved by federal drug regulators, and 88 percent were to treat patients with dementia — for whom the drugs can be lethal.

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Critics say the non-approved use of drugs such as Clozaril, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Symbyax, Seroquel, Invega, Abilify, and Geodon is a form of “chemical restraint” to control difficult patients, regarded by many as nursing home abuse. Others claim that prescribing drugs that the FDA has warned may be deadly to dementia patients is due to illegal drug maker kickback schemes.

In his letter to the senators who requested the audit, Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote “Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents as well as their families and caregivers should be outraged and seek solutions.”

Outrage is easy. But coming up with a solution is going to be a lot more difficult. Many doctors argue that the risk of prescribing these drugs to patients with severe dementia is mitigated by the relief they provide from agitation. It’s a question of balancing quality of life against the remaining length of life.

Still, the cost of these meds — which only skyrockets within a Medicare system rife with fraud — and the danger that their use can easily become abusive and deadly, means this controversy isn’t going away anytime soon.


Nursing Home Administrator Arrested for Financial Elder Abuse

It’s not surprising that older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s are prime targets for elder abuse and financial elder abuse. Predatory caregivers are betting that any claims of abuse by a person with dementia are likely to be ignored or dismissed.

That’s the reason no one believed a financial elder abuse victim in Georgia when he told family members someone at the nursing home was stealing his money…

In the end, the family learned that he was telling the truth – that the administrator of an Athens area nursing home was taking his money, and his brother’s…… ”My uncle with Alzheimer’s had said someone was stealing his money all along, but we just brushed it off because we thought it was just in his mind.”

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Turns out that the perpetrator wasn’t some lower-level nursing aid. It was the administrator of the Winterville Retirement Center, Sherrye Dianne Huff, who was arrested and charged with five felony counts.

Apparently, Huff’s alleged crimes are part of an epidemic of abuse at the Winterville, Ga., long-term care facility. Not only is Huff accused of stealing money from other residents. Another employee was recently charged with punching an Alzheimer’s patient in the face. Still another employee is accused of stealing a patient’s meds. All of these incidents occurred within a 3 month time period.


Mild Cognitive Impairment: Gateway to financial elder abuse?

Much has been made of the new redefinition of Alzheimer’s disease — the first in 27 years — which incorporates research that shows Alzheimer’s actually starts affecting the brain years before the most commonly known dementia phase of the disease.

Most experts agree that although we are still quite a way from any sort of standardized medical tests for early detection, the new definition is a critical step in the right direction.

If nothing else, the new guidelines issued by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association are creating awareness of mild cognitive impairment…

Experts say there are at least as many people experiencing this phase as the 5.4 million people estimated to have Alzheimer’s dementia. And they expect others to now ask their doctors if they are showing signs of mild impairment, which include experiencing some difficulty or inefficiency with memory, attention or other mental faculties, while still being able to function independently.

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The renewed focus on mild cognitive impairment is critical because during this diminished mental state — when an aging parent appears to be functioning “normally,” but is experiencing failing memory or judgement — it is very easy to miss just how vulnerable they can become.

Most adult children don’t understand how easy it is for aging parents with mild cognitive impairment to get into trouble while driving, or to become the victim of financial elder abuse.

It is easy to mistake Dad’s forgetfulness or Mom’s confusion for what often passes as normal signs of aging. For more info about symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, click here.


New Study May Help Avoid Elder Abuse and Financial Elder Abuse

It’s no secret that older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are extremely susceptible to elder abuse and financial elder abuse. This is especially true before a formal diagnosis is made, when no one is aware just how vulnerable an aging parent’s failing memory or judgement has made them to exploitation.

Now a study out of the University of California, San Francisco finds that one of the early signs of dementia is difficulty detecting lies and sarcasm.

…the research should help raise awareness of the fact that severe gullibility can actually be an initial symptom of dementia — something that might help more patients be correctly diagnosed and receive earlier treatment.

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So if you notice that an aging parent or loved one isn’t picking up on sarcastic remarks — or has become uncharacteristically gullible — don’t just write it off to old age. If your elderly parent is indeed showing signs of early stage dementia, it’s better to know BEFORE some con makes them their next victim.


Safety Tracking Devices for Elderly with Alzheimer’s

Wandering, or becoming lost and disoriented is a constant threat for an aging parent or elderly loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. All too often a lost elderly relative cannot identify themselves, where they live, or the name of a caregiver or family member. And many times, they are found dead from exposure.

The national Alzheimer’s Association estimates that six in 10 people with the disease or another form of dementia will wander at some point. Experts who work with people with failing memories say families should take steps to protect them…

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Start by purchasing a Safe Return bracelet, which stores vital identification and contact info in a national database. You can purchase a Safe Return bracelet endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association here. For additional peace of mind, another option is a personal tracking transmitter from Project Lifesaver or SecuraTrac.

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