In an average week, approximately 179,000 residents of nursing and assisted living facilities across the country are given unnecessary antipsychotic drugs. The technical term for this unethical “treatment” is “chemical restraint,” and it points to an endemic crisis of overstretched senior care facilities at which such medications serve to make residents “docile” and easier for a harried staff to manage. According to a recent press release, the seniors themselves (many of whom have dementia) and their loved ones report that they become nearly vegetative—some can’t even think or speak—and, furthermore, antipsychotics carry many known risks for the elderly such as increased fall rates. Zanthion, a senior care solutions company that makes use of technology and AI, promises to give assisted living facility staff more power and efficiency in caring for residents and alleviate the perceived need to resort to unethical overmedication.
Chemical restraint is very common due to the fact that over 90% of nursing facilities are short-staffed, some severely so. Combined with the tendency of dementia patients to be “difficult” or to wander off, one can see how sedation becomes tempting. What is truly alarming is that unnecessary antipsychotics are often administered by facility caregivers even without a doctor’s prescription, and without walking the patient through the informed consent process. One 81-year-old nursing facility resident stated that when he asked not to be given the antipsychotics, caregivers threatened to make him leave the nursing home.
Philip Regenie, CEO of Zanthion, Inc., came face-to-face with the often-demoralizing reality of the nation’s senior care system when managing his own parents’ end-of-life care. He was saddened by the lack of dignity involved in the treatment of many seniors as they are ferried through the system, and he used his own experience and finances to find Zanthion as a result. Noticing how thinly spread most nursing care facilities are, Regenie and his team created wearables, home sensors and other monitoring solutions to provide real-time data on seniors’ whereabouts and medical conditions at all times, so that nursing staff can extend the reach of their “eyes and ears” and have the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to situations such as falls or to assess the likelihood of heart attacks and other medical events. These tech-based solutions have the potential to alleviate the need for nursing staff to medicate residents into a virtual stupor, because 24/7 monitoring and health analytics are at their fingertips.
For the full story, read the press release.