Despite known dangers—including an increased risk of death—the use of anti-psychotic drugs to control elderly dementia patients has surged, to an estimated 30% of all nursing home residents. Under pressure to cut back, some homes are experimenting with alternatives, like letting distraught patients do what they want to calm down instead of drugging them—even letting some patients help out with others, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For some patients, music and dancing is enough to be weaned off drugs. Being given reading material—even if there isn't any reading going on—can be soothing. But nursing homes tend to be large and understaffed; some say shifting to smaller, more personal facilities is the only way to seriously reduce antipsychotic use.