The Elderly Continue to be at Risk from Anti-Psychotic Medication

A study published in the medical journal Lancet Neurology reports that patients over the age of 67 suffering from moderate to severe Alzheimer’s Disease prescribed antipsychotic drugs have double the risk of dying as those taking a placebo. The drugs followed in the study were Risperdal (risperidone), Thorazine (chlorpromazine) and Stelazine (trifluoperazine). Anti-psychotic medications are sometimes given to control symptoms of dementia in elderly patients, such as wandering and aggressiveness making them easier to manage in facilities such as nursing homes. Between October 2002 and June 2005, Health Canada issued three warnings of increased risk of death or stroke in elderly patients with dementia who take atypical antipsychotic drugs such as risperidone. Family members can play a critical role in ensuring that their elderly parents or other loved ones are not prescribed medication that may be harmful to them by keeping informed of the treatment and care being provided and asking for appropriate supervision and consideration of the best interests of the patient.

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