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Why are schizophrenia diagnoses in the U.S. elderly soaring?

According to the pharmaceutical records, schizophrenia is on the rise among the elderly in the United States. Does that sound shocking? It should.

Schizophrenia is not typically a “late-in-life” disease. It’s usually diagnosed in men by their late teens or early 20s and in women by their early 30s. Mental health professionals say that it’s very uncommon for someone with the disorder to be diagnosed after 40 years of age.

Some nursing homes are trying to hide medical abuses

Schizophrenia diagnoses have shot up 70% since 2012, which (not so coincidentally) happened to be the year that the federal government started looking into just how often antipsychotics were being used on seniors with dementia as a form of “chemical restraint” in nursing homes.

An investigation by The New York Times exposed the fact that patients with dementia were — often routinely — given dangerous antipsychotics that offered them no benefit and a host of new problems. The antipsychotics could have dangerous interactions with other drugs that many seniors take. Seniors on antipsychotics were two times more inclined to suffer falls, heart issues, infections and other health issues that could be fatal.

If the patients aren’t benefiting from the medication, why are they being prescribed antipsychotics? Because the drugs make them easier to control and manage — and the nursing home employees prefer them in a stupor instead of active. After all, staff shortages are common, and a complacent, quiet resident takes a lot less effort than one who’s mobile, demanding and vocal. Rather than stop prescribing antipsychotics to patients with dementia, many nursing homes simply got creative and started diagnosing seniors with schizophrenia to justify their actions.

Nursing home abuse and neglect take many different forms. If you believe that your loved one has been victimized, take immediate action to protect their interests.