Background: The prevalence of psychotropic drug use is high among the elderly, but research on how psychotropic drugs are used among individuals aged 90 years and older is limited. An increased knowledge on this topic may contribute to improved prescribing patterns in this vulnerable population. The aim of this study was to assess the use of psychotropic drugs in relation to mental disorders and institutionalization among 95-year-olds and to identify use of potentially inappropriate psychotropic drugs.
Methods: All 95-year-olds born in 1901–1903 living in nursing homes or community settings in Gothenburg, Sweden were invited to participate. The response rate was 65% and 338 95-year-olds were examined (263 women, 75 men). Psychotropic drug use in relation to mental disorders and institutionalization was assessed. Information on drug use was collected primarily from multi-dose drug dispensing lists. Participants were examined by trained psychiatrists using the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale and a battery of cognitive tests. Dementia, depression, anxiety and psychotic disorders were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition, revised (DSM-III-R).
Results: Sixty percent of the 95-year-old participants used psychotropic drugs; hypnotics were most common (44%). Potentially inappropriate psychotropics were observed in one third (33%). Antidepressants were used by 7% of the participants without dementia who fulfilled criteria for a depressive disorder, while 56% used hypnotics and 30% used anxiolytics.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of psychotropic drug use and the nonspecific nature of these treatments among 95-year-olds indicate a need for improvement in prescribing patterns.