Antipsychotic med doubles the risk of death

If you have a loved one battling dementia in a care facility, drop what you're doing and check his or her list of meds.

The word you're looking for is "haloperidol" (a.k.a. Haldol). It's an antipsychotic drug, and if it's on the list, demand that it be taken off RIGHT NOW. A new look at data on more than 75,000 dementia patients has found that this drug doesn't just increase their risk of death -- it can double it.

And if you think that's shocking, you ain't seen nothing yet.

That 50-percent increased risk is compared to risperidone, part of a class of meds called atypical antipsychotics. And, as a class, these meds can boost the risk of death in dementia patients by as much as 70 percent.

The study in BMJ finds that the risk is highest in the first 40 days and that Seroquel is the "safest" of the antipsychotic meds. But don't kid yourself, because "safest" doesn't mean "safe." We're dealing with a lesser of evils here.

To add insult to injury, along with that sky-high risk of death, one study found dementia patients who get antipsychotics also have double the risk of pneumonia.

And here's the final straw: These drugs are completely unapproved for dementia patients in the first place because they're clinically shown to do nothing for the condition itself.

Even the FDA has warned against it (and that's saying something). Yet a third of all dementia patients in care facilities are getting these meds every single day.

That's because while antipsychotic drugs do nothing for the dementia, they're great at creating quiet, compliant, zombie-like patients who need as little care from the "care" facility as possible.

Easier patients means fewer caretakers.

Yup, like everything else, this is all about saving a few bucks. And I'm sure they're charging your insurance company top dollar for this level of "care" to boot.

We know what helps dementia patients, and it's the hands-on care that requires an actual staff willing to give every patient the time and attention he deserves. (Read more about back-to-basics dementia care here.)

If your loved one isn't getting a daily dose of TLC instead of meds, find a new care home -- one that actually cares.