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Geriatricians push for decreased use of psychotropics

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) is concerned by the high levels of unnecessary prescription drugs in aged care facilities.

It is calling for alternatives to be used and improved access to quality medical care, saying that the general rules of medicine still apply in aged care facilities – meaning that medicines should only be used to treat medical conditions in line with professional guidelines.

ANZSGM president associate professor Edward Strivens said it was more difficult to manage high level usage of psychotropic medicines among seniors.

Strivens added that older people are also more likely to use multiple medicines, making prescribing medicines for them highly complex.

“These medicines are effective when used in the appropriate person but research shows that more than 80 per cent of aged care residents with dementia receive psychotropics, even though only 20 per cent might benefit from them,” he said.

He added there are numerous examples where the physical and mental decline of an older person is caused by an unrecognised underlying medical condition which can be treated or reversed if managed well.

“Geriatricians play a crucial role in the detection, intervention and management of quality issues in aged care settings,” he said. “Working alongside other healthcare professionals such as nurses, GPs and social workers, we are able to identify abuse, provide guidance on decision-making and make recommendations and/or referrals.”

We’re joined by Strivens to find out more.

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