DEMENTIA PATIENTS AND ANTIPSYCHOTICS: A DEADLY COMBINATION
Many of the elderly in America’s nursing homes are taking a long list of medications…for conditions like hypertension, elevated blood sugars, pain control, blood thinners and the list goes on and on and on…
The one type of drug which may be given for reasons other than a medical need are medications known as antipsychotics. These drugs are routinely given to nursing home residents to control behavioral problems associated with dementia. You see, it is easier (and cheaper) to over-medicate a resident with behavioral problems than it is to hire sufficient staff to take care of those residents.
Researchers in Canada wanted to find out the impact of being prescribed antipsychotic therapy to control behavioral problems associated with dementia. They discovered that 17 percent of newly admitted dementia patients are given antipsychotic drugs within the first 100 days of admission to quiet signs of delirium, rage or aggression. However, the down side was an increase in health risks including death, hip fractures, falls and strokes. These patients were twice as likely to be hospitalized or die as those who were not given antipsychotic drugs.
The lesson: Don’t let your family member be placed on antipsychotics unless there is a real and medically documented need.