Despite risks, antipsychotic use rises in seniors

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Seniors between ages 80 and 84 are taking antipsychotic medications at twice the rate of younger seniors, a new analysis finds.

Researchers analyzed antipsychotic use between 2006 and 2010 and found the number of adults between the age 80 and 84 who used the medications was twice that of people aged 65 to 69. Of those seniors who took antipsychotics, close to half were on the medications for more than 120 days in a year.

The increased use is startling, researchers say, because of the known risks the drugs carry. Possible adverse side effects of antipsychotics include stroke, kidney damage and death. The Food and Drug Administration and other researchers also have warned use of antipsychotics can increase the risk of death for people with dementia.

Results of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health-funded study were published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.