The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 16, 2013

New trend in nursing home care -- fewer drugs, more personalized attention


Many patients have been drugged for years, like Chalupa, who, according to her daughter, suffered from dementia and was on a daily cocktail of medications, including the antipsychotic Zyprexa.

The drugs made her agitated and caused her to lash out. She had worn out her welcome at two other nursing homes by the time she got to Buckingham in 2005, her daughter said.

“A Catholic nursing home asked us to move her out because they couldn’t handle her — she was so disruptive,” Christin Chalupa said. The other was terrible, she said.

At Buckingham, she would have a few good weeks and then staff would notice her wearing her shower cap all day, O’Keefe said.

“That meant trouble was coming,” O’Keefe said.

On more than one occasion, Chalupa was so cantankerous she would bring the staff to tears. She even called another nursing home and asked to be rescued, saying she was being held against her will.

“One day she threw a Tupperware bowl filled with soup at my head and yelled, ‘I’m not eating that crap you serve in the kitchen,’” O’Keefe said.

Chalupa didn’t even recognize her daughter. “I’d be afraid when I was driving here about what I would find — what she’d be like,” Christin Chalupa said.

In 2008, a psychiatrist began weaning Chalupa off Zyprexa and several other medications — including one for Parkinson’s, which she was taking even though she had never been diagnosed with the disease.

Slowly, she began to improve.

Now, despite her mother’s dementia, Christin Chalupa said this is the happiest and healthiest she’s seen her. Once rail thin, she has gained 30 pounds and never mentions that tooth. She dresses in color-coordinated outfits each day, complete with matching jewelry, and hasn’t reached for the shower cap or had a tantrum in years.

“She’s such a pleasure now,” Christin Chalupa said. “She’s a completely different Josephine.”


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