My grandmother may need to be treated on a psychiatric unit. I am afraid that she will be overmedicated. Will that happen in your program?
Unfortunately the overmedication of the elderly is a common problem. This is a common concern on the part of family and friends of our patients.
We want the public to know that we not only understand this concern but we share it. The elderly are even more vulnerable than other people to the unwanted side effects of psychiatric medications. In addition, it is not well known by the public that a variety of drugs used to treat common medical conditions can also have adverse affects on the brain areas that affect thinking, feeling, behaving, and overall function. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to use one or more drugs that can effect the brain and behavior for either medical or psychiatric purposes.
We do use pharmacological treatments when necessary on our unit. We use them as needed to protect patients and staff and if a behavior is so disruptive that it prevents necessary medical treatment. We attempt to use regularly scheduled psychotropic medications for targeted purposes and when non pharmacologic methods are not sufficient to treat the patient.
Our program allows us to target behaviors and to use lower doses and fewer psychotropics in the interest of avoiding adverse side effects. We also look at the non psychiatric medications that may be having an impact on thinking, feeling, and behavior.
Our team approach which includes expert assessments by our pharmacist, our behavioral psychologist, our nurses, our licensed clinical social worker, and our physicians enable us to minimize medications. Because our patients are under close observation and because they are seen by our psychiatrists on a daily basis we are often more comfortable lowering the dose or eliminating psychotropics on this unit than we would be in other settings including nursing facilities and medical floors.
If my elderly father has began refusing medications and will not eat, should I consider your Geriatric Neurobehavioral Program?
Medication and or food refusal can represent a serious problem if not treated. Sometimes serious depression in the elderly can manifest this way. Serious medical causes can be at the root of this and should be ruled out. If they are ruled out or if our medical consultants and our psychiatrists agree that this can be safely managed on our unit, consideration can and should be given to admission to our unit.
What can I expect from an inpatient psychiatric stay at your hospital?
We have an expert treatment team including nurses, pharmacists, social workers, recreational therapists, psychiatrists, geriatricians, and a neuropsychologist. We also have a full array of medical consultants available when needed. Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are available for consultation and treatment when appropriate. For specialized cases we can and do consult a Physiatrist to assure care is coordinated with the behavioral issues to maximize maintenance and or restoration of function.
The team will work together to address the behavior that brought your loved one to need hospitalization in the least restrictive way possible. We will also provide guidance upon discharge to you and to whoever is assisting you in caring for your loved one after discharge.