Mental Health

Drugging Elderly Dementia Patients: Kind or Dangerous?

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From the New York Times

Antipsychotic Drugs Called Hazardous for the Elderly

Nearly one in seven elderly nursing home residents, nearly all of them with dementia, are given powerful atypical antipsychotic drugs even though the medicines increase the risks of death and are not approved for such treatments, a government audit found.
 
While the Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors that using antipsychotic drugs in elderly patients with dementia increases their risks of death, doctors continue the practice because they have few other good choices, said Dr. Daniel J. Carlat, editor in chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, a medical education newsletter for psychiatrists.

“Doctors want to maximize quality of life by treating the patient’s agitation even if that means the patient will die a bit sooner,” Dr. Carlat said.

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This last remark is priceless. In the case of the "mentally ill," that would be twenty-five years sooner.