Reducing Psychotropic Medications in Long-Term Care Facilities

08/22/2023 Written by: AP Senior Living Team

As we age, it's common to experience physical and cognitive decline. For many older adults, this can lead to the development of behavioral and psychological symptoms, such as agitation, aggression, and anxiety. In long-term care facilities, these symptoms may be treated with psychotropic medications, such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. However, the use of these medications can have serious side effects and may not always be necessary. In this article, we'll explore the importance of reducing psychotropic medication use in long-term care facilities and some strategies for doing so.

Why Reduce Psychotropic Medications?

Psychotropic medications can have serious side effects, including increased risk of falls, cognitive decline, and even death. The FDA has issued warnings about the use of antipsychotics in older adults with dementia due to the increased risk of death. Additionally, these medications may not always provide effective treatment. Non-pharmacological interventions have been shown to be just as effective, if not more so.

Strategies for Reducing Psychotropic Medications

  1. Educate staff and families about the risks associated with psychotropic medications. Providing education on the potential side effects and alternative interventions can help them make informed treatment decisions.
  2. Conduct regular medication reviews to help identify medications that may no longer be necessary or may be causing adverse effects. A pharmacist or other healthcare professional can do this.
  3. Implement non-pharmacological interventions, such as music therapy, pet therapy, and exercise. These interventions should be tailored to the individual resident's needs and preferences.
  4. Use person-centered care to understand the resident's individual needs, preferences, and goals. By using this approach, staff can identify non-pharmacological interventions that are most likely to be effective for each resident.
  5. Monitor and document behavior to help identify patterns and triggers. This information can be used to develop individualized care plans.

Reducing psychotropic medication in long-term care facilities is an important step toward improving resident quality of life. Using the strategies outlined above, it is possible to create a safer and more effective care environment.

For more information on this topic, watch a recording of our webinar, "Reducing Psychotropic Medications." Contact AssuredPartners Senior Living to learn more about our Clinical Risk Management services.

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