Oklahoma Takes on Dementia Beyond Drugs

February 19, 2015
Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative

Video courtesy of OFMQ

Not long ago, I posted a blog that highlighted the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes and how the 2-day training Dementia Beyond Drugs reinforces the goals of this initiative. Since 2011, three states have provided funded registration for this training to hundreds of nursing home employees through the support of CMP funds. This year, Oklahoma is stepping up to the plate by welcoming geriatrician and award-winning author Dr. Al Power to facilitate three Dementia Beyond Drugs events in May 2015.

Funding for the training was granted to The Eden Alternative by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and like Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi, the state hopes to bolster its fight to reduce antipsychotic use. The overuse of such medications can decrease physical mobility and quality of life, while increasing confusion, hospitalizations, falls with fractures, and, in some cases, death. Reducing antipsychotics doesn’t just improve health and well-being, it’s also easy on our wallets. Between 2000 and 2011, U.S. sales of antipsychotic medications jumped from $5.4 billion to $12.6 billion dollars.

Statistics aside, reducing antipsychotics is about giving people their lives back. Take Bill Turley’s story, for example, in this moving video from the Villages of Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma and our partners on this project, the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality (OFMQ). Bill, like so many others, is a shining example of what’s possible when we have the courage to acknowledge what isn’t working.

Affirming this, Dr. Power adds, “In my nursing home work, family members would often tell me that their loved ones looked better than they had in months. They would often ask what pill I had prescribed to cause such an improvement. But it wasn’t a pill. It was because we had stopped the antipsychotic drug and found other ways of providing support.”

According to CMS data, Oklahoma currently has a high rate of antipsychotic use for long-stay residents, exceeded only by six other states in the U.S. States that have tried an array of interventions, including the use of CMP funds to provide Dementia Beyond Drugs training, are beginning to see a difference. Statistics from CMS reveal that Tennessee has experienced a 24.8% reduction in the use of antipsychotic medications between 2011 and 2014. Kentucky shows an 18.6% reduction for the same time period.

As Oklahoma follows suit, may they serve as an inspiration for other states. You go, Oklahoma! Thank you for helping to create a life worth living for those who live with dementia. You challenge us all to make a difference.

To learn more about Dementia Beyond Drugs in Oklahoma, click here.

2 Comments. Leave new

Barbara Smullen
February 20, 2015 10:30 pm

Oh, this progress is SO exciting!! As a 71 year young Elder, but who sees lots of folks with dementia in the home where I live, I hope that when dementia catches up with me I will be as “undrugged” as the Elders I see every day! Thank God for the Eden Alternative and the Rochester Presbyterian Home!

Jennifer Berg
May 14, 2015 10:55 am

Barbara, I hope that I am just like you at 70! Come to North Carolina and help me get Eden Alternative concepts in this area! May you have beautiful days ahead! Love that dementia care is taking such a wonderful approach!


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