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The New York Times today has a great story on Ecumen's Awakenings initiative to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications among Alzheimer's and dementia patients in nursing homes.
- According to one report, Medicaid - which pays for most nursing home stays in America and kicks in after a person has spent into poverty - spends more than $5 billion on antipsychotic medicines, which is more than it spends on any other class of drugs, including antibiotics, AIDS drugs, or medicines to treat high blood pressure.
- Statistics vary from state to state, but anywhere from 17%-45% of nursing home residents across the U.S. are prescribed antipsychotics.
- Moreover, according to a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, more than half are prescribed inappropriately to control dementia-related behaviors even though there is no mental illness diagnosis.
- The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that about 30% of nursing home residents receive antipsychotic drugs, and approximately 20% do not have a psychosis diagnosis.
There is a better way. And through Awakenings, which is supported by a $3.8 million grant from the State of Minnesota, we are working to achieve it and empower the people we serve in our nursing homes. It's not easy work, but it has to happen. For additional information on Awakenings, please go here.