Anti-psychotic drugs given to half of elderly at care centres

Just over 50 per cent of elderly patients in British Columbia residential-care facilities were prescribed anti-psychotic drugs over a two-month period last year, according to a report commissioned by the provincial government.
And the most commonly used anti-psychotic drugs were “atypical” medications – drugs developed over the past few decades that have been linked to serious side effects. In 2005, Health Canada said these drugs were not approved for use in elderly people with dementia.
The use of atypical drugs noted in the report is part of the broader, complex issue of how to care for the increasing number of seniors with dementia who live in residential-care facilities, said Martha Donnelly, who heads the UBC geriatric psychiatry program.
While saying there is a place for anti-psychotic drugs, even atypical ones, in long-term care settings, Dr. Donnelly said she’d like to see their use decline – but that it takes time, staff expertise and training to fully consider and implement the alternatives, and those are all in short supply.

Globe and Mail, Mon Jan 16 2012, Page: S1, By: Wendy Stueck