Toxic Medicine: What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in California Nursing Homes

Introduction Nursing homes often conjure an image of elderly people lying in bed or slumped in wheelchairs completely detached from the world around them.  Many visitors and even staff members believe that unresponsive residents are the sad evidence of unavoidable mental declines brought about by dementia or simple old age.  However, the poor quality of life for many nursing home residents is often caused not by the symptoms of their disease but by the side effects of their medications.

Documenting Decisionmaking In a Pandemic

There is hardly an element of life that has not gone untouched or completely upended by COVID-19.  With ubiquitous “shelter in place” orders and worldwide “social distancing,” finding notaries public and other witnesses for the signing of legal documents in California has become challenging for many folks and nearly impossible for long term care facility residents.  The burdens for these residents include:

  • National, state, county, and city orders essentially prohibiting on-site visitors for nursing home and assisted living facility residents;
  • Law that bars health care providers from acting as witnesses of Advance Health Care Directives (AHCDs); 
  • Fellow residents who cannot serve as witnesses because of varying degrees of infirmity and cognitive impairment;
  • Law requiring AHCDs be witnessed by a long term care Ombudsman at a time when Ombudsmen are not able to go into facilities.