March 22, 2017 – Brain Meds


Anchor lead: Many older Americans are taking three or more medicines that impact the brain, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Opioids, sleep medicines, medicines for psychiatric conditions.  The number of retired persons and older who are taking at least three such medicines has doubled over a decade, and these medicines directly affect the brain. Constantine Lyketsos, director of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, identifies at least one contributing factor.

Lyketsos: I think to a great extent this reflects the reduction in access to specialty mental health services. And what’s happening is that individuals and our seniors especially are presenting to their primary care doctors with mental health complaints. Primary care doctors are busy, mental health complaints require more time, than say, a high blood pressure complaint, and so prescriptions are being written perhaps with less careful attention and are being maintained when perhaps they’re not needed anymore.   :31

Lyketsos says caution is needed here, as well as careful review of all medicines someone is taking. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.