Reducing reliance on so-called “chemical restraints” in Alzheimer’s and dementia care is a corner-stone of the culture change movement and patient-centered care.
Powerful antipsychotic drugs are given to a quarter of all nursing home patients, in most cases as an attempt to quell so-called “troublesome” behavior from people who are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, such as yelling, wandering or resisting care.
Nursing home reformers and regulators agree that antipsychotic drugs are dangerously overused. The side effects are known to increase mortality among older patients and to cause stupor and disengagement that greatly reduce quality of life.
A recent initiative by Minnesota-based Ecumen to reduce antipsychotic drugs among a pilot project of 10 nursing home residents who live with Alzheimer’s and dementia has produced dramatic results. Over a six month period, all 10 people in the “Awakenings” project successfully stopped taking antipsychotic medication with no objective evidence of worsening behavioral distress. Half of them also quit taking anti-depressants.
RealCareNowTV recently talked to Ecumen’s Vice President of Operations, Mick Finn, about “Awakenings,” which is supported by a $3.8 million dollar grant from the State of Minnesota and is now being implemented in all 15 of Ecumen’s nursing homes. The project was recently featured in The New York Times New Old Age blog and on ChangingAging.org.
In Part 1, Dr. Bill Thomas and Finn discuss restoring “personhood” to individuals living with the challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia and the importance of providing an environment for individuals to live at their fullest potential.
Coming soon in Part 2, Dr. Thomas and Finn discuss the importance of being willing to take risks to innovative new approaches to patient-centered care.