Cut out the chemical cosh
JEF SMITH deplores the time it has taken the Department of Health to act on the over-prescription of anti-psychotic drugs for people with dementia
The youthful misuse of drugs is rarely out of the headlines, but there is an equally serious drug problem at the other end of the age scale which gets much less coverage; older people with dementia are being routinely prescribed medication which is widely thought to be bad for them. There could hardly be a better example of the prejudice revealed by the recently published National Review of Age Discrimination in Health and Social Care.
Dementia often makes people behave in strange ways. Sufferers become unpredictably agitated, pace around restlessly, arbitrarily leave the safety of a building, or burst out with unprovoked aggression. In this context descriptions like unpredictable and arbitrary really should have inverted commas round them since these are the – hardly objective – interpretations of those who observe and look after dementia sufferers.
It’s easy, but lazy, to ascribe such apparently irrational action simply to the still not fully understood brain damage which the disease c