Elderly and Psychiatry
Research data continues to accumulate documenting a higher rate of death for elderly patients diagnosed with dementia who are being administered antipsychotic drugs.
Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated: ProPublica & PBS "Frontline" special Report
ProPublica and PBS "Frontline" have identified more than three-dozen cases in which the alleged neglect, abuse or even murder of seniors eluded authorities. But for the intervention of whistleblowers, concerned relatives and others, the truth about these deaths might never have come to light.
For more than a year, ProPublica, in concert with other news organizations, has scrutinized the nation's coroner and medical examiner offices, which are responsible for probing sudden and unusual fatalities. We found that these agencies -- hampered by chronic underfunding, a shortage of trained doctors and a lack of national standards -- have sometimes helped to send innocent people to prison and allowed killers to walk free.
When it comes to the elderly, the system errs by omission. If a senior...dies under suspicious circumstances, there's no guarantee anyone will ever investigate. Catherine Hawes, a Texas A&M health-policy researcher who has studied elder abuse for the U.S. Department of Justice, described the issue as "a hidden national scandal." Read more here.
"Risk of Mortality Among Individual Antipsychotics in Patients With Dementia" by Helen C. Kales, M.D. et al, American Journal of Psychiatry 2012 169: 71-79
Further evidence that there are higher mortality rates associated with antipsychotic drugs and elderly diagnosed with dementia. Study also states “further, the use of valproic acid and derivatives [an anticonvulsant group] as alternative agents to address the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia may carry associated risks as well.”