Use of Antipsychotics in Decline for Dementia Patients

October 7, 2013

Antipsychotic drugs sometimes are a valuable treatment for patients with certain mental health conditions.  They probably have been overused in dementia cases to calm agitated individuals.  The FDA has warned that antipsychotics may have fatal side effects when used with dementia patients.

Last year, federal regulators announced a nationwide effort to slash the inappropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes.

Across the country, the use of these drugs dropped nine percent (short of the 15% goal).   Regardless, advocates say the decline is a result of nursing homes seeking more patient-centered treatment for dementia.

Antipsychotics seem like an easy solution, but experts agree that they are minimally effective in dementia cases.  While these medications have been the standard of care for a long time, more recent approaches focus on understanding the patient and his/her idiosyncracies.

Our home state of North Carolina has made significant progress in promoting the use of alternative therapies.   The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence partnered with the state ombudsman to train hundreds of nursing home administrators in patient-centered care practices.

There are no cures for dementia, so it’s all about the care.  Experts in the aging field have identified the concept of “Patient Centric Care” as a better approach.  Patient Centric Care focuses on the individual behaviors of the dementia sufferer.  Drugs try to fix a disease for which there are no cures.

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