Thursday, June 7, 2007

Drugs that shorten the end of life

nursing home
«I must ask his doctor», she said to me yesterday. «I am concerned about the drugs that they give him.» They are nurses and he is her father, living with dementia in a nursing home and often up at night when he is planned to sleep. Obviously, it is their plan, not his. The drugs are tranquilizers, and she wants to know exactly what tranquilizers and which are their side effects. This story came into my mind when I found a study stating that major tranquilizers shorten the life of nursing home residents with dementia.

In Canada, the effect of antipsychotic drugs, also known as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers, have been tested in more than fifty thousand older adults suffering from dementia. The patients have been selected from the population and have been compared pairwise - either new (atypical) drug versus no drug or new (atypical) drug versus old (typical) drug. Drug users were 30 percent more likely to die next month than non-users, and users of old drugs more likely than users of new drugs. The authors conclude that the drugs shorten the life of people with dementia though they admit that they were unable to take certain other risk factors into account.

Back to my story. He is often angry, she told me today. He shouted, they put me here, and there, and there, and there... His mind is too slow to understand what happens with him. I am going to call his doctor, she said. Good idea, I said. Ask him for the names of all drugs they give your dad.

Wikipedia: Antipsychotic

(Picture by pilaar39 @ Flickr)

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