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WATCH: A Woman Tells Of Her Family's Struggle With Antipsychotics

by Elbert Chu, Feb 28, 2013

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NEW YORK — The struggle to care for a loved one with Alzheimer's can lead family members to agree to heavy doses of antipsychotics.

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Take the case of Abigail Dennis and her mother, Anita Dennis, 87.

The elder Dennis was given to arguing and screaming at her home health aide, so Abigail Dennis asked her doctor for help. He prescribed heavy doses of antipsychotics. Abigail Dennis said the doctor gave no warnings.

“I had no idea about the risks, I just wanted her to be nice and not cause trouble for the aide," she said.

Dennis admitted her mom to Cobble Hill Nursing Home in Brooklyn, a facility that’s reduced its percentage of patients on antipsychotic drugs to 13 percent. Cobble Hill’s caregivers were shocked at the high dosages of the drugs, said Liza Long, head nurse of the dementia unit. They weaned the elder Dennis off them entirely. The nurses added that the elder Dennis went from kicking, biting, and screaming when she came off the drugs — to laughing and hugging everyone after proper care.

“I asked the staff what drugs they gave her and they said vitamins,” Dennis said.

In this video, Abigail Dennis tells of her family's experience with antipsychotic medications.

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