It’s no secret that sedatives and anti-psychotics are often used very liberally among the geriatric population. Whether the reason is cited as a need to protect the staff from the patient, or more commonly to protect the patient from themselves, the use of these drugs is easy, effective, and common.
But why is it that this is tolerated, and perhaps even encouraged when if we used that same type of treatment on other groups we would be horrified?
To illustrate the point, let me offer a provocative comparison.
Imagine you are looking at daycare centres to care for your new toddler and upon walking through the door into one you see a sign that reads:
“We proudly offer benzodiazepines to help our young guests sleep well even through the day in order to make them easier for our staff to manage and to prevent any risk of injury to themselves”
Something tells me you would walk the other way right? But these types of treatments are all too common with older ‘guests’
Now before I go any further…
A word in defense of the frontline staff who often rely on these solutions (since you know I was one of those frontline staff)
A nurse working with up to 10 different patients at once simply does not have the time to stand next to the bed of a confused patient who is persistently trying to remove their IV line and walk out of the hospital. To protect that patient from their own confusion while still allowing the nurse to work with their other 9 patients, these solutions must sometimes be used!
But at the same time I believe that if resources allowed for it, helping a senior cope without that intervention would be better for them in the long run.
That’s why a huge part of our mission at CalaCare is to provide 1:1 care, even up to 24 hours a day, to help even the most confused patients cope.
Long-term care facilities in Ontario seem to be taking up the cause as well.
CBC recently published an article detailing how long-term care facilities around the province are working hard to make a big (and positive) change in how they care for their residents and patients. The entire senior care community has realized that it’s too easy to use these types of medical solutions and are working hard to significantly cut back on these types of treatments.
The article states that in one example:
“At Trinity Village Care Centre in Kitchener, Ont., about 28 per cent of residents were taking anti-psychotics before staff introduced changes such as music and memory and art programs. After a year, that fell to six per cent.”
So once again somewhere between ideology and practicality lies the answer to this complicated problem, but the bedrock for the solution has (and always will be) supporting and empowering our community and family caregivers with knowledge, resources, and training.
As always thanks for reading and please leave any thoughts, comments, or questions below. I love reading them!