(NaturalNews) Although not authorized for such use, anti-psychotic drugs continue to be used to sedate Alzheimer's and other dementia patients with potentially devastating consequences.
Anti-psychotic drugs are designed for patients whose schizophrenia or bipolar disorder causes them to experience hallucinations or delusions. Due to their sedating effects, however, the drugs are often used on dementia patients who demonstrate aggression or agitation.
This use is considered "off-label," meaning that it is not authorized by drug regulation agencies. In spite of this status, such drugs are widely prescribed, particularly in nursing homes. Critics charge that the drugs are being used simply to make life easier for nursing home staff, and not for the benefit of the patients.
According to a recent study by world-renowned dementia expert Professor Clive Ballard, the use of anti-psychotics on dementia patients not only provides no medical benefits but is actually harmful.
Ballard studied 165 dementia patients who had been taking anti-psychotic drugs for an extended time period, then took half of the group off the medication. After one year, Ballard found that the patients still on the drugs did not appear to have demonstrated any improvement, nor did those not on the medicine appear to have deteriorated faster. On the contrary, those taking anti-psychotics had more trouble thinking and communicating than those who had been taken off the drugs.
In addition, evidence suggests that anti-psychotics shorten the lives of dementia patients.
Cheryl Byrne had personal experience with the effects of anti-psychotics when her father, an Alzheimer's patient, was placed on the drugs.
After starting the drug course, Byrne's father stopped moving around and became practically comatose, sitting slumped in a chair at all times, with the exception of bursts of agitated behavior. One time, he stood and sat a total of 17 times in 10 minutes.
In an attempt to force a resistant nursing home staff to take her father off the drugs, Byrne secretly filmed her father to prove her point.
"I never thought he was the same again after he'd been prescribed those drugs," Byrne said. "I thought something was lost."