Unnecessary or inappropriate medications - such as sleeping pills, painkillers, depression drugs and antacids - increases in patients newly diagnosed with dementia, a study has found.
Following a diagnosis of dementia in older people, medication use increased by 11 per cent in a year and the use of potentially inappropriate medications increased by 17 per cent, said Danijela Gnjidic, from the University of Sydney in Australia.
Potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medications included sleeping tablets, pain drugs, depression drugs and acid reflux drugs (proton pump inhibitors).
"These medications are typically recommended for short term use but are commonly used long term by people with dementia," Gnjidic said.
"A number of reasons may account for this, including inadequate guidelines, lack of time during physician patient encounters, diminished decision-making capacity, difficulties with comprehension and communication, and difficulties in establishing goals of care," she said.
"These findings are of major concern and highlight the importance of weighing up the harms and benefits of taking potentially unnecessary medications as they may lead to increased risk of side effects such as sedation or drowsiness, and adverse drug events such as falls, fractures and hospitalisation," she added.
"Deprescribing unnecessary medications may improve an individual's quality of life and can reduce unnecessary healthcare cost," Gnjidic said.
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