Dementia, aged care, death and drugs

There has been a lot of press recently in Australia about the overuse, and abuse of the use of antipsychotic drugs in aged and dementia care, and rather than reinvent the word-wheel, my blog today is to link you to a couple of articles.

 

Premature deaths linked to drugs in nursing homes

Up to 6,000 elderly people could be dying prematurely each year because of widespread over-prescription of powerful drugs to dementia patients in nursing homes.

Experts say anti-psychotic drugs can leave patients immobilised and unable to speak and are often used unnecessarily to keep dementia sufferers quiet for overworked staff.

But the drugs can increase the risk of death by 50 per cent, and family members are often left in the dark about their use… read more

 

In a system where drugs replace staff, no-one can hear you scream

I imagine if it was revealed that tens of thousands of ”disturbed” young people were being condemned to a premature death in institutions dispensing powerful mind-altering medication, which were motivated more by the desire to sedate than to care for those under their charge.

Happily, that is not the case, but it is happening in parts of our aged care system. As the federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, has conceded, if such a crisis was affecting young people there would be an outcry, possibly even a royal commission. Tragically, when it comes to elderly residents living with dementia in Australia’s hostels and nursing homes, there is no apparent outrage, not even a sense of urgency, except in the anguished cries of bereaved and angry family members. It is not overstating it to claim that this situation constitutes a human rights scandal.

In the past two weeks, the media, in two ABC Lateline programs, has directed a searching beam of accusation against a significant portion of the aged care industry over this issue… read more

9 thoughts on “Dementia, aged care, death and drugs

  1. Pingback: Ita Buttrose on dementia and human rights | Creating life with words: Inspiration, love and truth

  2. Old age dementia is very common. As we, grow old, start losing memory. Old age dementia patients are needed to be treated with special care and attention. As, old age is very sensitive age. Timely medications also decides the pace of recovery from this disease to a great extent.

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  3. if your elders are suffering from Dementia then more then the medication what they need is same kind of affection and care they used to have. So don’t make them depend upon the drugs rather care for them to overcome it.

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  4. Reblogged this on Exploring Dementia and commented:
    I wanted to share some words from a blog I follow, about a problem that is near and dear to my heart. All too often, persons with dementia are being given drugs to control their behavior, when so often non-pharmaceutical means are much more appropriate. I hope the author doesn’t mind if I re-post her contribution to this discussion.

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  5. This is a problem that has been getting a lot of attention in the U.S. as well. It’s been estimated that 95% of behaviors are a form of communication. And, instead of trying to figure out what a person is trying to tell us, all too often it’s easier just to give another pill. So often, these people with advanced dementia aren’t able to tell us any other way that they’re in pain, or afraid, or need to be changed. And, too, it’s important to consider medication reactions in persons who are already on quite a few different drugs. Plus, research has shown that some of the older antipsychotics can actually cause more harm than good in persons with Lewy Body Disease, for example. Kudos to you for calling attention to this problem.

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  6. I read the 2nd article above and it actually made me depressed ….. what made me depressed was reading that some people have to have the “dumbing down” medication because it’s the only way to control their dementia symptoms. That’s the part that I hated reading.

    Sure, the whole thing is bad, but the ‘dumbing down’ hit the hardest.

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  7. I don’t know how to fix this problem, you need a caring Dr & caring Nurses, what surprised me about the Aged Care sector was the fact that daily the ACAT is updated for the homes / hospitals to get the appropriate funding from the Government yet the medications for the patients with Dementia or not are rarely reviewed. I made our Dr’s do this and found in consultation with families who have to pay for medications how easy they were accepting of changes and reduction in medications especially when they were just being given as they had ‘always’ had them.

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