Depression is a cognitive disorder that plagues one out of every ten Americans. Osteoporosis a bone disease, is also extremely widespread in the American population. Both are especially common in the elderly, and recently, researchers believe they may have found a link between the two. An article published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of American Medical Directors explores the question “Do SSRIs Play a Role in Decreasing Bone Mineral Density?” The article reports that a certain type of antidepressant drugs may affect bone density. These drugs are classified as selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRIs) and 62% of all antidepressant drugs fall within this category.
This recently discovered side effect of SSRIs highlights the need for extreme caution when administering antidepressant drugs. These types of drugs are very commonly abused in skilled nursing facilities and sometimes even used as chemical restraints. Before your loved one agrees to begin an antidepressant drug regime, make sure that he or she has exhausted all other alternatives. Leisure and social activities are just two examples of non-pharmacological therapies that improve depressive symptoms. The caregiver’s attitude toward his or her patients also has a profound effect on mental health. It is extremely important that your loved one’s caregiver is emotionally supportive and takes the time to personally interact with him or her on a daily basis. This will help prevent patients from feeling socially isolated and delay depressive symptoms.
The link between SSRIs and decreased bone mineral density, however, does not excuse the skilled nursing facility from any liability. In fact, a staff that is continually trained and educated should be aware of these risks and take them into consideration before administering an antidepressant drug regime to their patients. Each and every nursing home patient is entitled to access to an adequate staff. This legal right encompasses both quality and quantity of the staff available. If your loved one’s skilled nursing facility is lacking in either aspect, he or she may be a victim of nursing home neglect.
Furthermore, the nursing home staff is responsible for ensuring effective communication with any other team members that provide care for the patient. By operating under a team environment and maintaining accurate medical records, an efficient nursing home staff is able to prevent adverse drug reactions and polypharmacy, which can occur when a patient is taking an excessive amount of medications at once. By carefully documenting all treatments that the patient is receiving, physicians can be mindful of these other medications before prescribing additional drugs.
If your loved one’s nursing home is located in El Monte, El Segundo, or La Mirada and you feel that he or she is not being provided with the highest practicable quality of care as a result of understaffing, please contact us today to see how we can help.