The New York Times recently reported that even after 30 years of warnings regarding the dangers it poses to the elderly, use of benzodiazepine, sedative-hypnotic drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin, rises sharply with age. A study in the February 2015 edition of JAMA Psychiatry reports that 9% of those between 65 and 80 years of age take them and the proportion is even higher among women at 11%. These are astounding figures for any class of drug.
Overuse of tranquilizers in the elderly is a real issue.
Notably, the known adverse effects of these drugs include:
- increased risks of falls and fractures
- diminished cognition in terms of memory
- other neuropsychological measures
- increased risk for car accidents
Yet, doctors persist in prescribing them. Why?
First, doctors like to prescribe them because they work fast for such things as insomnia and nervousness. Also, doctors encounter resistance to employing alternatives like meditation and talk therapy by their senior patients. They too often turn to tranquilizers in the elderly.
Seniors don’t want to give them up.
They are addicted to either the drug or the notion that a magic pill will cure any symptom that ails them. Moreover, the withdrawal process from the drug brings on some of the same symptoms. These include insomnia, sweats and nervousness that prompted their use initially. As such, patients don’t want to go through it.
Doctors are afraid to fight with their elderly patients about discontinuing the prescription.
They are also under the mistaken notion that the process is too daunting. In fact, a Canadian study has shown that even a brochure with a schedule for weaning can have a dramatic effect on those wishing to make the change.
There is plenty of support out there if you want to find it.
Doctors and healthcare professionals need to be more motivated identifying potential abusers and heed the long standing warnings of over prescribing these drugs. The elderly need to be fully counseled on the associated dangers and assisted in weaning themselves off these drugs.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Can Help Seniors
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and down. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies that provide in home healthcare services.
DYA we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.