The use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is wide-spread. Antipsychotics are used to treat various psychoses and neurologic conditions including schizophrenia and delusional disorders. Other indications for long-term antipsychotic use in the elderly include dementia with associated psychotic and/or agitated features. The most common name brands include Thorazine, Mellaril, Trilafon, Prolixin, Stelazine, Navane, Haldol, and Cloxaril.
However, a new study underscore scientists’ warnings about the risks of stroke involved with giving elderly patients antipsychotic drugs. The study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that elderly patients taking the drugs were 1.7 times more likely to suffer a stroke. The rate more than doubled, to 3.5 times more likely, for dementia patients taking antipsychotics.
My take: If your loved one is taking antipsychotics you need to be aware of the increased risk of stroke. Many nursing homes over-prescribe antipsychotics for “troublesome” residents to make them less active and less demanding of care. Make sure your family member actually needs an antipsychotic and is not getting the medication just because it makes it easier on the facility.