A new international study led by University of Sydney shows more newly diagnosed dementia patients take medications.
Some of the mediations are unnecessary or inappropriate.
The longitudinal study examined nearly 2,500 people. It was conducted in collaboration with Yale University and University of Kentucky.
Currently The number of people living with dementia around the world is 50 million and in Australia is 425,000.
Recent estimates suggest that dementia will cost Australia more than $15 billion per year. The disease is the second leading cause of death in Australia.
The researchers found that following a diagnosis of dementia in older people, medication use increased by 11% in a year.
The use of potentially inappropriate medications increased by 17%.
Potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medications included sleeping tablets, pain drugs, depression drugs and acid reflux drugs (proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs).
These medications are typically recommended for short term use, but the team find they are commonly used long term by people with dementia.
A number of reasons may account for this, including inadequate guidelines, lack of time during doctor visit, weak decision-making capacity, difficulties with comprehension and communication, and difficulties in setting goals of care.
The researchers suggest it is important to weigh up the harms and benefits of taking potentially unnecessary medications as they may lead to increased risk of side effects.
In addition, further efforts are needed to support better recognition of potentially inappropriate medication use to minimize such prescribing.
Deprescribing unnecessary medications may improve patients quality of life and can reduce unnecessary healthcare cost.
The study is published in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
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