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April 14, 1989

Drugs in the Institutionalized Elderly

Author Affiliations

Cornell University Medical Center New York, NY

Cornell University Medical Center New York, NY

JAMA. 1989;261(14):2067. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420140068026

To the Editor.—  In both an article1 and an editorial2 in the November 25 issue of JAMA, overdosage with psychotropic drugs of elderly patients in nursing homes was detailed. It was further noted that suboptimal medication choices were commonly prescribed in the facilities reported on in the study. I wish to stress the importance and timeliness of both of these communications.As I have described elsewhere,3 too many of the problems of elderly patients are dealt with by means of the prescription pad. This "panacea" is often used instead of attentive listening, concerned custodial care, and appropriately indicated psychotherapy.Since these articles detail the potential hazards of nonselective medication abuse in such patients, it is my hope that geriatricians and geriatric psychiatrists will pay heed to the problems described. Only then can intermediate-care facilities hope to become both financially and emotionally cost-effective institutions.