Stop Using Potentially Lethal Medications on Dementia Patients

Target: Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Goal: Ensure that patients outside of nursing homes are no longer drastically overmedicated with antipsychotic drugs by updating the National Alzheimer’s Plan.

Antipsychotics are not an approved medication to treat dementia and can prove extremely dangerous for older patients, and yet a new study shows that they are increasingly being given to patients living at home or in assisted living facilities. Antipsychotic drugs are meant to treat serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They even have what is known as a “black box warning” from the FDA, which states that the drugs may increase risk of death in older dementia patients and are not meant to be used to treat the disease.

While the government does monitor this use of antipsychotics in nursing homes and has taken action to reduce its use, those efforts do not extend outside of nursing homes to assisted living facilities or patients who live in private homes. The new study by the AARP Public Policy Institute shows that while nursing home antipsychotics have been declining, the use of these dangerous drugs outside of nursing homes has increased by more than six percent over only three years. Prescribing antipsychotics to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia—such as mood changes and agitation—has raised many concerns. According to their website, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) “recommends that HHS expand its outreach and educational efforts aimed at reducing antipsychotic drug use among older adults with dementia to include those residing outside of nursing homes by updating the National Alzheimer’s Plan.” Sign below to demand that senior citizens be protected, and that the Department of Health and Human Services follow the GAO recommendation immediately.


Dear Secretary Azar,

As the new AARP Public Policy Institute study shows, the rate of dementia patients being given antipsychotic drugs to treat their illness has been increasing outside of nursing homes, despite FDA warnings that the drugs are not approved to treat dementia and can even increase the risk of death in older patients. This issue must be addressed.

Your office monitors the use of these dangerous drugs inside nursing homes, but it must begin taking into account the patients living at home or in assisted living facilities. The effort extended for outreach, education, and regulation of antipsychotics within nursing homes have proven effective. These same strategies must be extended outside of nursing homes as well. The GAO has recommended expanding these efforts and updating the National Alzheimer’s Plan. These recommendations should be heeded. All dementia patients have a right to appropriate care. I urge you to ensure they are protected from the misuse of these dangerous drugs.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Hugo Chisholm

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  1. teresa romero says:

    Well, let it be known to all that nowadays the government tries to get rid of older people – because after all there is no use in spending any money on someone whose lifespan is rather short!

  2. Sugandha says:

    If these med were approved by the FDA, they must be doing some good, i.e: benefits > risks.

    By the way, we really need to consider alternatives to animal experimentation because we already cured various dementia including Alzheimer in mice! Stop the suffering of ALL.

    “We’ve been able to cure Alzheimer’s disease many, many times in mice, but still haven’t done so in humans,” –

  3. gen agustsson says:

    we supported suicie by mistake or on purpose and we must do something about drugs.

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