That's why the medications known as benzodiazepines show up on international guidelines as drugs that very few people over the age of 65 should take.
Yet a sizable percentage of adults in that age group still have an active prescription for one, according to new research from three countries that have made a special effort to reduce their use.
Percent - Veterans - United - States - Benzodiazepine
Currently, about seven percent of older veterans in the United States have a benzodiazepine prescription, and the numbers are even higher in Canada and Australia, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
There's been a steady decline in all such prescriptions since new guidelines came out, the research shows. And the number of older adults starting on the drugs for the first time has dropped even faster.
Reductions - Researchers - Use - Drugs - Needs
But despite these reductions, the researchers say that the continued use of the drugs show much more needs to be done to alert providers, and patients and families, to their hazards and the need to find alternative treatments.
"This downward trend is definitely encouraging, in particular the trend in the new starts for these medications, because the easiest solution is to not start people on them at all," says Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of geriatric psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School who worked on the study and has studied the risks of psychoactive drugs on older adults.
Research - Medications - Psychotherapy - Approaches - Symptoms
He notes that research shows that newer antidepressant medications, and non-drug psychotherapy approaches, have been shown to help ease many of the symptoms that often prompt doctors to prescribe benzodiazepines -- without the risks. Also, research has shown that patients who take a benzodiazepine to calm the effects of acute stress are actually more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
An international group of authors including Maust and his colleagues looked at data...
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