I have been listening to the Radiolab and This American Life podcasts for years now. This morning while driving to work I heard a story about a young man who was suffering from delusions who was actually shot in his hospital room. I realized that of all the things I’ve done to try to get someone to care about my mom’s story, I’ve never attempted to contact a journalist. So I found the submissions pages for these podcasts and sent them the following:
Nursing homes and psychiatric care facilities in the state of Florida are using the uninsured elderly as unwitting participants in drug trials for multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies, often with fatal results.
If you are reading this, you are likely not elderly and / or suffering from dementia, but one day you will be or one of your parents will be. And it is when you are most vulnerable and voiceless that you will learn that this huge segment of our community is invisible.
I know this because my mother died at the very young age of 63 after a nine-month ordeal during which I vainly attempted to get her appropriate medical and psychiatric care. She was repeatedly given the experimental drug Risperdal for “off label” purposes even after I was made her “Guardian” and made it known that I did not want her taking that drug. She died of the exact known side effect of being administered the drug.
The conditions of most mental health facilities in Florida to this day almost exactly mimic those of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. I would go days without being able to get in touch with my mother, she would be (literally) lost or misplaced, phones did not work or went unanswered, etc.
I finally called the Department of Children and Family Services to get help, and she died the day after an investigator — who never actually visited her — told me that there was nothing to investigate.
I have meticulous documentation of the entire experience, including names and phone numbers and email addresses of local, state, and federal employees and hospital personnel involved and notes and transcriptions of conversations.
I have been trying for over three years to get someone to care, but the laws in Florida are so horribly skewed against the elderly that it is impossible to get a lawyer to even consider investigating the case.
My mom is dead and she should not be. And I want her story to be told.