Advocacy, Antipsychotic drugs, Toward better care

alzheimer disease didn’t do this. drugs and dementia jail did

I’ve blogged a lot about the negative impacts of the inappropriate use of quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal) on people living with dementia, specifically on my mom.  One post, for example, shows the immediate effects of such drugs on my mother, another shows the difference from one day to the next when she was drugged and when she was not. I’ve also blogged about the side effects of quetiapine (Seroquel), of risperidone (Risperdal), and of haloperidol (Haldol).

I shared videos about the tardive dyskinesia Mom suffered as a result of the long-term inappropriate prescription of the antipsychotics she received.  I’ve talked about how the Government of Quebec finally acknowledged what I knew to be the truth about antipsychotic drugs seemingly long before they did, and how the action the government took in 2017 was too late for my mom, but hopefully not too late for others. I expanded on that with another video showing the effects these drugs had on my Mom.

Now I offer this:

I share this video because it demonstrates in a concrete, compact, and comparative way some of the physical and psychological effects the inappropriate prescription of antipsychotics had on my mother over a period of three years. This isn’t the end of our story. There’s much more proof to come.

I’m compelled to share our experience so the people you love, and you don’t suffer as Mom and I did. I also want to make it known to care providers, governments and our society overall that it is our collective obligation to provide people who live with dementia and older adults the care they deserve. It’s a human rights issue.

I hope people of the future look back with incredulity at where we are today and say “We can’t believe they did things that way.”


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Advocacy, Antipsychotic drugs, Care Partnering, Challenges & Solutions

Quebec’s eldercare drug culture: a provincial picture paints 1,314 shocking prescriptions

Old people asleep nursing home


The huge variance in the rates and ways antipsychotic are prescribed to elderly people with dementia around the world and the strong push to discourage and decrease their use are proof there are better ways to help people with dementia live well until they die.

I’ve blogged about the United Kingdom’s success in quickly reducing the use of antipsychotics; here’s an excerpt:

In June 2012 the UK’s National Dementia and Antipyschotic Prescribing Audit Summary Report showed that while the number of newly diagnosed people with dementia increased by almost 68 per cent between 2006 and 2011, there was a 60 per cent decrease in the number of people with dementia receiving prescriptions of antipsychotic medication (i.e. to 7 per cent in 2011 from about 17 per cent in 2006) .

In contrast, the rate of prescription of antipsychotics to the elderly has remained virtually the same (i.e. between 300 and 600 prescriptions per 1,000 elderly people) in nine of Canada’s 10 provinces over a similar period (2009 – 2014) .

Nine Canadia provinces


Shockingly, in Quebec, the province in which I live, the rate of prescribing antipsychotics to the elderly was 1,314 prescriptions per 1,000 in 2014. That’s 1.3 prescriptions per elder — four times the prescribing rate in Alberta and Newfoundland, double the rate in Ontario and New Brunswick. Antipsychotics are designed to help people with schizophrenia, which occurs at a rate of about one to two per cent in populations overall. What’s wrong with this picture?

Quebec rate antipsychotics


AND, while the UK reduced the number of antipsychotic prescriptions to the elderly by 52 per cent from 2008 to 2011, the rate of prescribing antipsychotics to the elderly INCREASED by 20 per cent in Quebec from 2009 to 2011. Overall, it rose by 31 per cent between 2009 and 2014. Hmmmmm.

Furthermore according to the 2015 Ontario Drug Policy Network report:

  • Prescriptions for antipsychotics to elderly patients in Canada increased nearly 32 per cent between 2009 and 2014, to about 4 million prescription from about 3 million . (Download the 2015 Ontario Drug Policy Network report here.)
  • The total amount spent on antipsychotic prescriptions dispensed to elderly patients in Canada increased by 21 per cent to $75 million between 2009 and 2014. As the rates in the other nine provinces remained relatively flat, Quebec is likely responsible for the lion’s share of the cost increase.
  • The bulk (97 per cent) of antipsychotics prescribed in Canada are atypical antipsychotics such as quetiapine and risperdone.

Are there twice as many crazy old people per thousand in Quebec than there are in Ontario? Are Quebec seniors with dementia four times more likely to require medication than those in Alberta? And if so why? Why do rates of prescription vary so dramatically between provinces, regions and countries? Why do some places resist change and continue to prescribe drugs “off label” to old people with dementia knowing full well the risks include an earlier death? Why are some places, provinces, regions and countries committed to change and others seem to be in denial about moving forward?

Lots of questions. I continue to explore answers.

Stay tuned.

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