Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland elderly get more antipsychotic drugs in care homes

Elderly woman's hand
Image caption Antipsychotic drug dispensing in older people more than doubled when they entered care

Elderly people in NI are given drugs such as tranquilisers and anti-dementia drugs at a much higher rate in care homes than when they are living in the community, a study has found.

The study was carried out by scientists from Queen's University Belfast.

It analysed prescribing data for over 250,000 people, aged 65 years and over, living in NI from 2008 to 2010,

It found that antipsychotic drug dispensing in older people more than doubled when they entered care.

The study found that 8.2% were prescribed the drug before entry to care homes and that rose to 18.6% after entering care.

Lead researcher on the Queen's study, Aideen Maguire, said: "Although drug dispensing is high in older people in the community, we have found that it increases dramatically on entry to care.

"This study showed that the high uptake of psychotropic drugs observed in care homes in Northern Ireland cannot be explained by a continuation of drug use initiated in the community prior to entering care.

"With an ageing population globally it is important that we look at the reasons behind this type of increase following admission to care.

"Antipsychotic uptake in Northern Ireland is similar to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland, and this study highlights the need for routine medicines reviews especially during the transition into care."

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