There is no excuse for unnecessary antipsychotic prescribing
“There is no excuse for this continued abuse of our elderly,” Andrea Rondeau wrote in her editorial, Sept. 28. The abuse: “feeding seniors antipsychotic drugs they don’t need.” I emphatically agree!
Antipsychotic drugs are potent chemicals with powerful effects on our bodies, minds and souls. While they may be helpful in some situations, they can damage us. Here are a few examples of the effects of over prescribing I witnessed in my work as a mental health nurse during the 1970s and 1980s: a teenage girl’s breasts began secreting milk; an older man shuffled as he walked, nearly falling with each step; a man’s legs jerked wildly and uncontrollably; and a woman walked furiously for miles to relieve her painful restlessness. Antipsychotics shorten people’s lives, are disabling, and can even be fatal.
We have known about disabling adverse reactions to antipsychotics since the 1950s yet the over prescribing has increased dramatically over the years and this includes increased abuse of our senior citizens by giving them these drugs when they don’t need them at all. I see this as cruel.
Rondeau put forth the challenge: We must reduce the numbers of seniors being fed antipsychotics they don’t need to zero. “We must,” she emphasized.
How do we do this? Educate ourselves. Knowledge is power and to find the information and how to act on it, I suggest exploring the Canadian Deprescribing Network website at https://www.deprescribingnetwork.ca/. Here are a few topics on the website: “Start a conversation…with your doctor, pharmacist and/or nurse…;” “Why am I taking this medication?” “You may be at risk;” “Alternatives to risky medications;” and the toolkits: “When Psychosis Isn’t the Diagnosis” and “Less Sedatives for Your Older Relatives.”
As well as seniors and their families working diligently to reduce unnecessary medications, health, government and community leaders must address the root causes. Zero is the goal and to reach zero we all need to speak up and not be afraid to tell our stories, express our concerns and offer solutions. Everyone must be involved.
E. Daisy Anderson