Things are heating up in the race to reduce antipsychotic use. Three weeks ago, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new statistics ranking Tennessee as one of the top five states to significantly reduce the use of antipsychotics. Spurred by CMS’ National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, Tennessee claims a 16.5% reduction in antipsychotic use between 2011 and 2013.
The State of Kentucky is clearly stepping up to join the fight.
As human beings, we cling to old paradigms like old friends. They feel comfortable and familiar, even when we know they don’t serve us anymore. It can be scary to walk away and try something new. The unknown is… well, the unknown.
But here’s the rub. The lives of thousands of Elders are being impacted by the unwarranted prescription of antipsychotic drugs every day, every moment. There are countless stories of people “coming to life” when medication use is optimized, rather than maximized. So, we don’t have time to stay in our comfort zone any longer. The time has come for us to take the leap and learn new ways to identify the unmet needs of individuals living with dementia.
Like Tennessee, Kentucky has chosen education as a key part of its arsenal. Facilitated by award-winning author, Dr. Al Power, the Bluegrass State launched Dementia Beyond Drugs training in Louisville on Monday. The free event, funded by CMP dollars approved through CMS’ Region IV, is expected to draw around 400 participants from licensed Kentucky nursing homes.
The bold steps taken by Tennessee and Kentucky remind me that education is the antidote to fear.
Making the commitment to meet someone where they are through person-directed practices is the most powerful way to say, “I see you. I really see you, and I’m here for you.” As the daughter of two parents who lived with two different kinds of dementia, I wanted nothing less than this for them.
Kudos, then, to the good souls in Kentucky who’ve stepped up to take advantage of this powerful opportunity to grow and transform the lives of others. May Tennessee and Kentucky inspire other states to join this much needed revolution. It can, indeed, be different.