[Gerontopsychiatric competence is in demand. The current psychopharmacologic treatment practice in homes for the aged and nursing homes]

S G Riedel-Heller, G Stelzner, A Schork, M C Angermeyer
Psychiatrische Praxis 1999, 26 (6): 273-6

OBJECTIVE: A growing proportion of residents of residential and nursing homes is mentally ill and subject to intensive pharmacotherapy. This study presents data on the use of psychotropic drugs use in residential and nursing homes for the elderly in the new Länder.

METHOD: The psychotropic drug use of 560 residents of 4 old-people's homes in Leipzig (Germany) was reviewed and analysed descriptively.

RESULTS: Half of the population of residential and nursing homes receives psychotropic drug treatment, a substantial part with 2 or more drugs a day. Middle- and long-acting benzodiazepines were prescribed strikingly often and used for long-term treatment. Antidepressants, taken regularly by 3.6% of the nursing homes residents and 2.6% of the residential home residents, are considered to be under-used. The introduction of new substances (e.g. atypical neuroleptics, SSRI's) which might be more appropriate in vulnerable and multimorbide elderly persons was found to be delayed.

CONCLUSIONS: The treatment of mental disorders in residential and nursing homes lags far behind the "state of the art" and demonstrates the need for gerontopsychiatric input into institutional care for the elderly.

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