Are antipsychotic drugs risky for dementia patients?

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  • Catherine says:

    Good information. I believe it is wrong for any doctor to be giving dementia patients antipshchotics drugs that is very harmful to their health. Risk of stroke, seazure, and death is hasen by antipsychotic drugs. A friend of mind was in a coma for three weeks from it. I believe it is cruel to give elderly people who are also suffering from cognitive communication disorder antipsychotics drugs- they are not able to express the side effects. Please continue to stand up in one voice for dementia patients.

  • T Rawstorne says:

    Reading articles and papers by Dr. Paula Rochon and others, one wonders why the nursing homes don’t use, as recommended by the Psychiatric Association, non-pharmaceutical interventions? Perhaps that is because there is no time in a task and medication cart filled day the opportunity to spend quality time with residents who are obviously trying to communicate their dislike or concern about where they are – a place that looks and feels and smells like a hospital, filled with hospital-style beds and staff that wear uniforms.
    When asking staff which non-pharmaceutical interventions they might use with my relative, they stare at me with blank faces and say nothing. I have researched these techniques and the evidence is in that if performed consistently and regularly, these techniques make a difference in the behaviours of the residents. But alas, there is no time or staff to do this so it is abandoned.
    I think it is somewhat expected to “blame” the resident for these behaviours and use inappropriate drugs for those who have no known diagnosis for the use of these drugs. To further scramble fragile and impaired cognition using chemical restraints and often coupled with physical restraints actually shows how little we understand the brain, those with dementia, and has progressed no further than the 1970s.
    I find it truly heartbreaking to hear of stories of people “waking up” or even sadder, hearing them speak for the first time in many years. I can only imagine the torture they suffered while being unable to communicate to others because of a stroke of a pen on paper.
    I am ashamed of my profession as a nurse, to realize that even though there are Codes of Ethics, no one is adhering to them and speaking out so that there is a demand for real change in the care of those who need it.

  • David Filipowich says:

    This is something clinical pharmacists who service retirement homes in Ontario have been trying to implement on a regular basis, however, some of the roadblocks tend to be the medical staff who are resistant for fear they may cause the residents to worsen. With only 5-10% of the residents need to be restarted on these meds, it is worth the effort to reduce the use of anti-psychotics in this group of patients, even though the staff may be resistive at first…
    After all the health of the residents should always be the primary concern..


Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor is a health journalist and former Patient Navigation Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he provided advice and answered questions from patients and their families. Paul will continue to write occasional columns for Healthy Debate.

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