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Dementia patients are loading up on unnecessary painkillers and sleeping pills

Potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medications included sleeping tablets, pain drugs, depression drugs and acid reflux drugs (proton pump inhibitors).

health Updated: Apr 22, 2018 15:41 IST
Press Trust of India
Dementia Patients,Taking Unnecessary Pills,Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills among dementia patients are on the rise. (Shutterstock)

Medications such as sleeping pills, painkillers, depression drugs and antacids are unnecessary and inappropriate in dementia patients. And a recent study has found that their use has increased over a period of time.

For the study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, researchers from Yale University and University of Kentucky in the US studied nearly 2,500 people. Following a diagnosis of dementia in older people, medication use increased by 11% in a year and the use of potentially inappropriate medications increased by 17%, said Danijela Gnjidic, from the University of Sydney in Australia.

Potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medications included sleeping tablets, pain drugs, depression drugs and acid reflux drugs (proton pump inhibitors). “These medications are typically recommended for short term use but are commonly used long term by people with dementia,” Gnjidic said.

“A number of reasons may account for this, including inadequate guidelines, lack of time during physician patient encounters, diminished decision-making capacity, difficulties with comprehension and communication, and difficulties in establishing goals of care,” she said.

“These findings are of major concern and highlight the importance of weighing up the harms and benefits of taking potentially unnecessary medications as they may lead to increased risk of side effects such as sedation or drowsiness, and adverse drug events such as falls, fractures and hospitalisation,” she added.

“Deprescribing unnecessary medications may improve an individual’s quality of life and can reduce unnecessary healthcare cost,” Gnjidic said.

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First Published: Apr 22, 2018 15:33 IST