Avoiding Overuse of Antipsychotic Medications

The use of atypical antipsychotics for residents with dementia is under increased scrutiny–including drawing the attention of the U.S. Senate Special Committee in Aging. The increased focus is due in part to studies that have shown increased health risks and unnecessary expenses from overuse of these newer medications.

Fortunately, assisted living providers can take steps to avoid overuse of these medications, including:

  1. Work with the resident’s physician/prescriber:
    When faced with challenging behaviors or other manifestations of a resident’s dementia, you will likely communicate with the physician about your concerns. Don’t just ask the doctor for a prescription, ask him/her for alternative solutions to manage the issue. If you feel the physician has over-prescribed, don’t be afraid to advocate for your resident by discussing your concerns in a calm and professional manner.
  2. Implement “non-medical” interventions:
    There are a range of interventions that can help manage challenging behaviors before turning to a medication. Physical activity, increased engagement, creating calm environ,ends, identifying behavioral triggers–the list goes on and on.
  3. Educate your staff:
    It is not enough for you to understand the importance of avoiding overuse of medications. Educate your direct care staff, med aides, and nurses about the dangers of overuse, and how to avoid it.

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