Sunday, 21 April 2024
    Aged Care

    Residents turned into zombies

    People living with dementia in aged care facilities are being unnecessarily sedated with antipsychotic drugs for more than 200 days at a time, twice as long as the maximum time recommended, a study has found, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

    Some were sedated for their entire stay, according to Australia’s first large longitudinal study to review nursing home’s medication records by Macquarie University’s Kimberly Lind, to be published on Wednesdayin Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders.

    Experts have told the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety that antipsychotic drugs are rampantly over-prescribed, turning patients into “zombies” when they only make a difference in about 10 per cent of cases.

    The guidelines for managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia recommend antipsychotics, such as Risperidone, should only be given for a maximum of 12 weeks and as a last resort after all other interventions have failed. These drugs are commonly prescribed when a resident with dementia is agitated, aggressive or won’t settle.

    The new study of the daily medication records in nursing homes confirmed doctors weren’t following the guidelines, said Dr Lind from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the paper’s lead author.

    Of those residents with dementia who were taking antipsychotics, 65 per cent took these drugs for more than three months. The study looked at 9242 medication “episodes” relating to 5825 residents aged 65 years and over at 68 residential aged care facilities in NSW and ACT.


    Aged care residents turned into ‘zombies’ on antipsychotics for more than 200 days at a time (Sydney Morning Herald)


    Maggots found in great-grandmother’s wound, royal commission told (9News)

    Aged care royal commission in Darwin hears of Aboriginal elder’s family, culture separation pain (ABC News)


    Krzysztof Blachnicki  / Wikimedia / PD