Via McKnight’s Long Term Care News, this report should come as no surprise to ChangingAging readers:
Nursing homes’ use of risky antipsychotic medications is far too common, according to a new report from Consumer Reports.
The report’s authors analyzed numerous studies and determined that the use of antipsychotics to treat aggression, agitation or hallucinations in dementia patients is unwarranted. They said that the risks posed by these drugs, such as weight gain, movement disorders, sudden cardiac death and stroke, outweigh potential benefits. Since there are no drugs approved to treat dementia symptoms, doctors prescribe them how they want, according to the authors.
The report is the result of an ongoing investigation into the use “off-label” drugs by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. The term “off label” refers to the use of medications to treat conditions for which the use of the drug has not been approved.
And the shocking conclusion — person-centered approaches are more effective than drugs (emphasis mine):
Experts participating in the report said other behavior interventions, such as music therapy, massage therapy, the use of distraction techniques, and allowing patients to make frequent phone calls to friends and family, should be employed before considering the use of medication.