The HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a report stating that psychotropic drug use in nursing homes is generally appropriate. The Senate Special Committee on Aging requested the OIG investigate the extent to which psychotropic drugs are being used as inappropriate chemical restraints in nursing homes.health

Psychotropic medications are drugs that affect brain activities associated with mental processes and behavior. They are divided into four broad categories: anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and hypnotic drugs. CMS established guidelines for the appropriate use of these drugs in nursing homes. Chemical restraint is the use of a drug to control an individual’s behavior and is legally appropriate only if used to ensure the physical safety of residents or other individuals.

According to the OIG’s findings, the drugs are generally being used appropriately. The few problems involved inappropriate dosage, chronic use, lack of documented benefit to the resident, and unnecessary duplicate drug therapy.

To view the full report, look online at http://oig.hhs.gov//oei/reports/oei-02-00-00491.pdf.

Source:HHS OIG 11-2001

National Notes

November Is National Family Caregiver Month


U.S. Senator Larry Craig of the Senate Special Committee on Aging reminded the nation that November is National Family Caregiver Month. “Family caregivers are generous and compassionate people and it is appropriate that in November, the month of Thanksgiving, we acknowledge those who provide care for others who need help caring for themselves.”

Last year, Congress added $125 million to establish a new National Family Caregiver Support Program to assist family caregivers. Those services include information and assistance, training and counseling, and respite care.

If you are providing care for an older person and need help, you should contact either your state or local Area Agency on Aging. Try the Eldercare Locator-a great way to find community assistance for seniors-at 1-800-677-1116.

Also, visit our Senior Sites links page of this E-letter for great links to caregivers organizations.