10 seldom-mentioned “side effects” of using antipsychotics in long-term dementia care, which are also 10 more good reasons we should #BanBPSD

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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:

  1. Eliminates the need to properly train staff on person-centered dementia care, thus helping to keep wages down and profits up
  2. Results in worsening the ratio of employees to residents, thus maintaining or increasing profits while negatively impacting care
  3. Sacrifices patients’ well-being
  4. Reduces patients’ quality of life
  5. Shortens patients’ lifespan (due to inactivity and well-documented side effects)
  6. Causes debilitating conditions such as dyskinesia and dystonia
  7. Further entrenches the drug culture of dementia care to the detriment of people who live with dementia and their care partners
  8. Significantly harms and/or traumatizes care partners and family members by forcing them to witness the needless suffering of people they love
  9. Normalizes destructive drug-induced catatonic states in people who live with dementia
  10. 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?

tardive what? 7 things dementia care partners, care staff and medical professionals should know about this kind of dyskinesia

7 things you should know about how and why antipsychotics are inappropriately prescribed to people living with dementia in care facilities

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for your article on the bad side affects of drugs for Alzheimer’s patients. While issued a no trespassing notice (keeping me away), these people have felt free to give my dad these very kind of drugs, saying that he was being to unruly to work with. BS!!! As of Aug. 16th (2018) the no Tresspassing has expired, yet I am to afraid to walk in there to see my father. The DON that behaves as a Psychopath still works there. She will do anything in her power to go after me with harmful intent. I will continue to work on getting my father, an isolated vulnerable adult adult out of this place my dad has called HELL. Thank you for all your kindness and the Loving work you do.☺️

    • M. Susan Macaulay on

      Thanks Robin. I was in a similar situation, and I know how frustrating and
      discouraging it is. Honestly, I was filled with despair, as I’m sure you
      are. I hope you’re able to liberate your dad.

      I’m going to put your comment in a blog post. Can you tell me where you
      are located?

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