The United States is seeing an alarming trend in mental illness: Schizophrenia is on the rise amongst the elderly population — or so the nursing homes would have you believe.
Diagnoses of schizophrenia in nursing homes have risen an incredible 70% since 2012, and it’s now estimated that one patient out of every nine is now prescribed antipsychotics.
What’s happening to the elderly to cause schizophrenia?
Given that schizophrenia is typically diagnosed long before someone hits their golden years, it seems strange that there’s a surge in diagnoses among the elderly — at least until you start looking at what’s really happening.
It’s illegal to use chemical restraints on seniors just for the sake of the staff’s convenience in a nursing home, but it’s not illegal to medicate someone for a mental health disorder. If the drug they’re given for their mental health condition just happens to curb restlessness and agitation and make the patient easier for the staff to handle, that’s a win for the nursing home.
In essence, nursing homes have found a loophole that lets them do as they please — and they’re exploiting it to the fullest. Worse, a new study indicates that the diagnosis is being given to Black patients with dementia 1.7 times more often than white patients. That’s a reflection of the fact that Black patients are often in facilities that have poorer quality of care.
You can fight back against nursing home neglect
Nursing homes may see nothing wrong with drugging a patient that might otherwise be time-consuming or difficult, but that’s a form of abuse. It can also lead to neglect since quiet patients may not get the attention they need when sick or injured. If you suspect that your loved one has been mistreated while in nursing care, take steps to learn more about your legal options.