Thursday, April 25, 2013

New funding helps dementia patients on antipsychotic meds

When an 84-year-old SE Washington resident named Bob needed someone to advocate for him, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, operated by Multi-Service Center in Federal Way, stepped in.

Bob had been placed against his wishes into a nursing home. To anyone who would listen, Bob berated the nursing home and pleaded to be allowed back home.

Bob, 84, and the caregiver at his adult family home in SE Washington, where he now lives. - Courtesy photo

His regional ombudsman, part of a statewide network of trained volunteers who advocate for residents of long-term care facilities across Washington, checked on Bob regularly. After a few weeks, however, she became alarmed by Bob's condition.

"He had lost weight and I was concerned. I mentioned it to nursing home staff," said the ombudsman. Staff assured her it was nothing to worry about.

The ombudsman also saw evidence that Bob appeared to be heavily medicated by an anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal, often used to control challenging behaviors. The drug can have long-term adverse side effects as well as fatal consequences for elderly people with dementia, like Bob.

Worried, the ombudsman called the state office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, located in Federal Way, and got help. When the state ombudsman questioned nursing home staff about Bob's deteriorating condition, the nursing home decreased and finally stopped the antipsychotic drug. Bob's condition improved, and today, he is doing well.

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