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Elder abuse can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and a form of abuse known as chemical restraint (over-drugging). Chemical restraint includes using powerful medications (including anti-psychotics) to sedate elders in nursing homes. In the worst cases, chemical restraint has been used as a means of punishing elder residents in nursing homes.

Also known as over-drugging, this practice is unfortunately all too common, though it is not always reported. However, chemically restraining elderly residents of nursing homes is absolutely illegal in California.

In particular, nursing homes have been accused in many instances of administering strong anti-psychotic medications to elderly residents who do not require them. In more than one instance, residents of nursing homes have died as the result of this form of elder abuse. Thankfully, legislators are beginning to take notice of the problem of over-drugging elders in nursing homes, and last year California nursing homes saw a reduction of unnecessary use of anti-psychotics by 8.5%. This is great news compared to 39 other states, but fell fall short of the goal of reducing the use of these drugs by 15%.

It’s encouraging that we are making progress, in terms of trying to eradicate elder abuse once and for all; yet that still means that thousands of elders in nursing homes in California are falling victim to chemical restraining techniques. This obviously means that we must work together to report suspected over-drugging or unnecessary medicating in all nursing homes.

Signs or symptoms that an elder is being chemically restrained or overmedicated in a nursing home may include:

•Increased lethargy or confusion
•Extreme changes in behavior
•Sudden changes in health

If you suspect that a loved one is being chemically restrained or over-drugged while in a long term nursing facility, contact Christopher C. Walton today for a free and confidential consultation. Chris is a California elder abuse attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. Chris can be reached at (866) 338-7079.

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