Beware of “Off Label” use of antipsychotic medication with the elderly.
Nursing homes are often understaffed. Patients cannot get the kind of attention they deserve and need. Patients often time cry out for help, and are labeled as “behavior” problems. The staff calls in the psychiatrist, who is often times a nurse practitioner operating under the control of the shrink. The cure for the nursing home (not the elderly patient) is to write a prescription for anti-psychotic medication. Anti-psychotic medication was developed and approved by the FDA to treat Bi-Polar disorder, Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Nursing homes use the medication “off label” or as a mood stabilizer, to keep patients “quiet”. Anti-psychotic medication that meet sFDA approval to date are: aripiprazole (Abilify®), asenapine (Saphris®), clozapine* (Clozaril®), iloperidone (Fanapt®), olanzapine (Zyprexa®), paliperidone (Invega®), quetiapine (Seroquel XR®), risperidone (Risperdal®), and ziprasidone (Geodon®).Risperidone, quetiapine, and olanzapine are the most commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotics for off-label indications. Often times the side effects of these drugs can cause stroke or heart problems. Beware of their use and ask lots of questions regarding alternative treatments.