Psychotropic Drugs: Friend or Foe?

According to the National Institute on Aging, an estimated 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and approximately 10 percent of adults 65 years and older are diagnosed with the disease. In turn, Alzheimer’s is the most well known cause of dementia, a progressive brain dysfunction, which ultimately results in the restriction of most daily activities. There is currently no cure.

Best estimates indicate that up to 80 percent of nursing home residents have one of these mental disorders, and/or depression, anxiety, or psychosis. Enter psychotropic drugs, the controversial medications often administered to nursing home residents to affect temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior. Proponents argue that the use of psychotropics can help control behaviors such as wandering, pacing and agitation while detractors say these drugs often contribute to decreased mental functioning, sleep disturbances and physical injuries due to decreased perception. Gilbert Guide wants to hear you weigh in. Do you think psychotropic drug use benefits or endangers seniors in long-term care facilities?