Tag Archives: elderly

Now this, is the kind of mental therapy we can get behind—”Psychiatrist tries a different approach with dementia patients”

Dementia patients can get anxious to the point of violence while bathing, and this cheery beach mural is one of many small innovations that have lifted moods here in recent months. Under the direction of psychiatrist Dr. Miguel Rivera, caregivers at the Pines have deployed such simple spa comforts as music, massage and calming colors to help reduce agitation. As a result, dosages of antipsychotic medications have dropped to less than half the state average for this most challenging patient population. “I remember so many times walking through that old west hallway at the Pines” before the building was remodeled, he says. “After the first few years of me working there and seeing how people were overmedicated, and boredom was so prevailing, I remember — and I feel it right now — just walking down that hall, and praying, saying, ‘Please, God, show me a way.’ ” It was Rivera’s wife, Natasha, he says, who put him on a path to exploring alternatives to drugs. Both practitioners of TriYoga, they met in 2007 on a spiritual trip to India. By the end of the three-week stay, they were married. A year later, she joined him in Sarasota from her native Russia. And almost immediately, Rivera says, she changed the way he was doing his job.

Rivera soon found research on the use of music, massage and other therapies on dementia patients. His reading also led to the use of daily affirmations by Pines staffers, who tell the patients, “You are safe; you are loved; you are happy.” The result, says Westbrook of the Pines, was “this whole beautiful circle he has created here that has changed that unit.”

Nursing homes are seeking to end the psychiatric drug stupor

The dangers of [psychiatric ] drugs: The drugs are especially hazardous to older people, raising the risk of strokes, pneumonia, confusion, falls, diabetes and hospitalization. “There’s a bunch of problems, not least of which is those drugs can kill you,” said Dr. Mark Kunik at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who spoke last month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Instead of looking for causes of disruptive behavior among dementia patients, doctors typically prescribe drugs to mask the symptoms, he said, because “It’s the easy thing to do. … That’s true in hospitals, in clinics and in nursing homes.” Federal regulators are cracking down on homes that don’t routinely reassess residents on psychotropic drugs. But use remains widespread.

Top prescribers under Senate’s microscope

Minnesota doctors are again under the microscope of an influential U.S. senator from Iowa — this time because of concerns that expensive medications are being overprescribed at great cost to the publicly funded Medicaid and Medicare programs. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, notified federal authorities Wednesday that he found potential examples of overprescribing after requesting lists from states, including Minnesota, of doctors who issued the most prescriptions for antipsychotic and narcotic medications in 2008 and 2009.

Antidepressants Linked to Blindness in Older Adults

Antidepressant use could be linked to blindness in older adults, a recent study suggests. Drugs that treat depression known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, caused an increased risk of developing cataracts in patients aged 65 or older, according to a study published in the journal Ophthalmology in June.