Editorial: Feeding seniors antipsychotic drugs they don’t need is abuse

Editorial: Feeding seniors antipsychotic drugs they don’t need is abuse

That’s no way to live, even if you’re over 80, 90 or 100.

One in four British Columbia seniors living in a long-term care facility is being given antipsychotic medication without a supporting diagnosis.

It’s a horrific statistic that amounts to nothing less than abuse of seniors.

It’s important to emphasize the fact that the seniors we’re talking about have no illness to support giving them these extreme medications. There is no medical reason to give them these drugs. We are left to suppose that these drugs are being given to essentially dope these people into oblivion, so they snooze all day and aren’t a ‘problem’ for their often overworked caretakers.

But, of course, that’s no way to live, even if you’re over 80, 90 or 100. It may be easier for care homes if their residents sleep all day, but it’s not at all what they’re supposed to provide for our elderly parents, grandparents and siblings. It is not unreasonable to expect to have the best quality of life possible after moving into a long-term care facility. Many seniors are still alert and interested in life, even though they can no longer live on their own. These are qualities to be nurtured, not knocked out of them with drugs.

Many people are afraid to have to move into a care home. They fear loss of independence. But this shows they must also fear being drugged up for no reason.

It’s troubling that B.C. is particularly bad for this. A recent report from the BC Seniors Advocate states that this province has lower rates of psychiatric and mood disorders and aggressive behaviours than other provinces, though a slightly higher rate of dementia. But B.C. has a rate 19.3 per cent higher than the national average for seniors being given antipsychotics without a supporting diagnosis, and no progress, zero, has been made in the last year to reduce that number.

We do, of course, want to reduce that number. We want to reduce that number to zero. More than that, we must. There is no excuse for this continued abuse of our elderly.