According to findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, nursing homes administer “pointless and potentially harmful drugs” to a majority of residents with advanced dementia. 54% of more than 5,400 residents received medication with questionable benefits; drugs like donepezil (Aricept) and memantine (Namenda) were the most commonly administered medications even though there is little evidence proving they improve cognitive functioning in people with advanced dementia. Approximately 20% of residents were also on a lipid-lowering agent, a drug associated with numerous side effects, including confusion and muscle fatigue. The costs associated with these medications is substantial; the average 90-day expenditure for the drugs was $816-more than a third of the medication expenditures for advanced dementia residents. Hospice patients with a do-not-resuscitate order were not as likely to be administered questionable medication. Researchers advise providers to minimize questionably beneficial interventions to improve care quality at the end of life.
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