The Pierce County Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is taking on the improper marketing and misuse of certain prescribed drugs for the treatment of behavioral symptoms of dementia. The drugs most often used include Risperdal, Seoquel, Abilify and Invega. The misuse of these drugs, especially for elderly and for people who have a dementing illness, can have serious, life threatening side effects.
“Prescription drug use plays an important role for individuals with dementia,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources manager. “But in certain situations, strong drugs may have been given inappropriately simply to control behaviors stemming from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Families need to understand their rights and responsibilities in advocating for their loved ones.”
The Ombudsman Program is hosting a series of free community seminars to help friends and family members advocate for their loved one who may be at risk.
• March 7 – 12 p.m. Salvation Army Senior Center (4009 9th St SW, Puyallup)
• March 10 – 1 p.m. Bonney Lake Library (18501 90th St E, Bonney Lake)
• March 12 – 6:30 p.m. Spanaway Library (13718 Pacific Ave. S, Spanaway)
• March 15 – 11 a.m. Olympic Alzheimer’s Residence (3025 14th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor)
• March 17 – 12 p.m. Pierce County Annex (2401 S. 35th, Tacoma)
• March 19 – 2:15 p.m. Wheelock Library (3722 N. 26th St, Tacoma)
• March 26 – 2 p.m. Gig Harbor Boys & Girls Club (8502 Skansie Ave, Gig Harbor)
The major concern centers on the use of the medications for reasons other than their intended use (referred to as “off label”). Research indicates that 83% of the medications were used for reasons other than their designed use. Sedating patients to control their behaviors frequently denies any quality of life and can lead to rapid physical and mental deterioration.
The Pierce County Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is a service of Pierce County Community Connections. Staff and volunteers of the program advocate for the rights and quality of life of residents living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes with special attention to residents who may be unable to communicate effectively on their own.
Bob Riler, Pierce County Community Connections
Scott Kinney, Pierce County Community Connections