Although the federal government began a campaign in 2012 to get nursing homes to reduce their use of antipsychotic drugs, it rarely penalizes institutions that continue to use the drugs at high rates, NPR reports.
These drugs, designed to treat people with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, can be deadly for older people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Despite this risk, almost 300,000 nursing home residents across the country are given antipsychotic medications, according to the article.
In Texas, more than one-quarter of nursing home residents are given antipsychotic drugs, compared with a nationwide average below 20 percent. The state has conducted a series of trainings for nursing home employees to teach them about alternatives to giving residents antipsychotic medications. Employees are encouraged to learn enough about residents to determine why they exhibit challenging behaviors, and to find ways to deal with these behaviors without antipsychotic drugs.