There are a tonne of reasons not to give antipsychotics to people who live with dementia. I’ve blogged about them here, here and here (among many other places). There are also a tonne of reasons why people are given antipsychotic medications in long-term care, most of which have something to do with their normal responses to adverse conditions and poor care approaches, and nothing to do with dementia. The normal human responses are pejoratively labeled, and erroneously attributed to dementia.
A growing number of dementia care advocates around the world, myself included, are fighting to have these labels deleted from the dementia space in a campaign we’ve dubbed “#BanBPSD.”
When fellow #BanBPSD activist Kate Swaffer posted an open letter to Australian TV Channel 9 regarding one of their segments, I dropped by her blog for a read, where I found an insightful comment by Jerry Wylie, who, like Kate, is a board member of Dementia Alliance International (DAI).
Jerry was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease in 2015 at age 62; besides being the Vice Chair of DAI, he sits on the Physicians’ Advocacy Committee for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association, and has lived a life of service as well as achievement. (Read more about DAI and about its board, including Jerry, here)
Jerry enumerated a few “hidden” side effects of antipsychotics in his comment on Kate’s open letter, and I built on his reflections to create this list of 10:
- Eliminates the need to properly train staff on person-centered dementia care, thus helping to keep wages down and profits up
- Results in worsening the ratio of employees to residents, thus maintaining or increasing profits while negatively impacting care
- Sacrifices patients’ well-being
- Reduces patients’ quality of life
- Shortens patients’ lifespan (due to inactivity and well-documented side effects)
- Causes debilitating conditions such as dyskinesia and dystonia
- Further entrenches the drug culture of dementia care to the detriment of people who live with dementia and their care partners
- Significantly harms and/or traumatizes care partners and family members by forcing them to witness the needless suffering of people they love
- Normalizes destructive drug-induced catatonic states in people who live with dementia
- Robs people living with dementia of their dignity and human rights
Think about it: who really benefits from using antipsychotics to sedate people who live with dementia in long-term care?
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