nursing home residents

Treva Steele visited her father every day after he moved to Greenwood Healthcare Center in Greenwood, Indiana, in February. Joe Barton, who was 73, was recovering from open heart surgery and on a ventilator.   

Courtesy of Marvin Miles

Marvin Miles got a call from his mother on March 27. She had started rehabilitation about a month earlier at Bethany Pointe Health Campus, a skilled nursing facility in Anderson, Indiana. They had spoken almost daily since then, but this call was concerning because it came at 1:35 a.m. 

“She was complaining about she couldn't breathe, and she had been pressing the nurses’ button for over an hour and no one would come in there,” Miles says.

It's one of the worst fears we have for our parents or for ourselves: that we, or they, will end up in a nursing home, drugged into a stupor. And that fear is not entirely unreasonable. Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs, usually to suppress the anxiety or aggression that can go with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.