Many of the nation's elderlysuffer from dementia or similar problems that makeit hard for them to live and difficult for caretakers. Within nursing homes, the staffcan find patient'sillnesses difficult or impossible to handle. When this happens, tranquilizers are often given to them, and sometimes in excess. In fact, they use extremely potent psychotropics, such as Risperdal, Ability, and Seroquel among other medications.

Drugs should not be first line of defense

“However, these drugs should not be the first line of defense,” says Dean Hartley, a published researcher, “they're basically a sedative.” Responding with medication can do some unwarranted damage.

The elderly are much more likely to fall when given medications for the purpose of sedation. Instead of “medicating” the elderly in a nursing home, why not resolve the issues by talking to the patient and trying a ‘hand -on-approach’. "Effective communication is the best solution,” Hartley suggests.

Hartley was a leader in the study that documented some interesting findings. In fact, his study was conducted in Sydney Australia, and involved 24 nursing homes and 135 patients. The members in the study were taken off of the sedating drugs, and 76% continued to remain off of them after 12 months.

Hartley explained that these results indicated that tranquilizers were not always the best route. In the research he conducted, he discovered many examples, in which a properly trained nurse was able to manage patients and keep them under control without using tranquilizers. Hartley states that he would like to see more studies done - more statistics.

Costs involved

What about money? Surprisingly, it costs less, to do it Hartley’s way.

If the nursing home patients are no longer visiting the emergency room because of falls caused by tranquilizers, the suggested method would be financially sound. After all, one-third of the elderly suffer from a fall each year. Taking away sedating tranquilizer might lower that figure.

Hartley remarks, that he hopes to see more studies conducted. Instead of medicating or “sedating” the elderly, a more involved approach might be good for them and good for everybody.

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