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Nursing Homes Significantly Reduce Rate of Antipsychotic Drug Use

The state's nursing homes and elder care facilities are improving, according to a new study.

North Carolina has reduced its rate of antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes by 23 percent over the last year-- that's the highest such improvement rate in the country.

Many nursing homes and adult care homes have been known to use antipsychotic drugs to help calm and control residents who have dementia. But overmedication can cause all sorts of problems for patients who are so drugged they can't participate in activities and who might fall because the drugs impair their coordination. Bob Konrad is a professor in health policy at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health.
"There are a lot of different alternatives that can be used, but they all sort of involve well-trained staff that pay close attention and build strong relationships with the residents," says Konrad.

The alternatives include music therapy and massages for agitated patients.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services track the rate of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, but not in adult care or rest homes.

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