Research has found that the number of seniors being treated with antipsychotic drugs increases with age, according to a study conducted between 2006 and 2010 and published October 21, 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Antipsychotic medications have serious side effects in older adults including increased mortality, yet these drugs, which are approved for mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have been prescribed to seniors over the age of 70 with no such diagnosis. Many of those studied who received an antipsychotic were diagnosed with dementia and the rate increased with age. The research also found that half of people between 65 and 69 and only one fifth of seniors between 80 and 84 received prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs from a psychiatrist.
The lead author of the study, Mark Olson, reported that the results of the study highlights a need for new treatments for agitation and confusion in the elderly, focusing on the underlying causes of symptoms. Greater attention, in his opinion, should be placed on environmental and behavioral treatments instead of medications.
For more information about the risks of antipsychotic medications in the elderly, visit the Food and Drug Administration website at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm124830.htm .