Choosing a nursing home for your loved ones is a difficult task. Nursing homes come in different qualities, from the wonderful ones, where one can enjoy life peacefully, to the dreadful ones, where abuse is rampant and life becomes torturous. And it’s not easy to tell which is which!
Choosing a nursing home is not a simple task, but it has become somewhat easier since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have started collecting and publishing data about many aspects of nursing home life. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also publish a rating of nursing homes, rating nursing homes on a scale of one star to five stars.
One of the most sinister abuses occurring in nursing homes is the misuse of antipsychotic drugs. In many nursing homes, more than 90% of residents are kept on antipsychotic drugs, immersing residents in a stupor of unconsciousness and robbing them of what could be peaceful and gratifying years of their lives.
Why are they doing that? The answer is simple – to disorient nursing home residents, so they are unaware of their surroundings and unable to complain about abuse and shoddy care they receive from nursing home staff.
The data is astounding. Overall, in the United States, only about 1% of residents are placed on antipsychotic drugs; however, many nursing homes keep more than 90% of their residents on antipsychotics. This is a horrible abuse; it is equivalent to smothering the residents’ souls.
For reasons that are not clear, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have decided to exclude data about the abuse of antipsychotic drugs from their ”star quality rating” of nursing homes. One cannot help but wonder why; in reality, the abuse of antipsychotic drugs is probably the strongest indicator of an abusive nursing home for two obvious reasons:
Forcing antipsychotics on residents that do not suffer from psychosis is a terrible abuse and a violation of the medical code of ethics;
But more than that:
Antipsychotics are forced on nursing home residents for a reason: they are used to place residents in a daze so they become unaware of other forms of abuse prevalent in their nursing home.
In other words, the use of antipsychotics is not only an abuse by itself; it is also an indicator of the presence of other serious forms of abuse in a nursing home. So prevalence of antipsychotics use in a nursing home is a double warning sign: stay away!
The table below list 99 towns in which, on average, nursing homes use antipsychotics relatively sparingly. Mind you, these nursing homes are not entirely free of antipsychotics; they use antipsychotics on up to 20% of their residents (on average). Notwithstanding, these are the towns in which nursing homes show the lowest use of antipsychotics (according to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid).
I would consider nursing homes in these towns first, should the need for a nursing home arise.