Antipsychotic use among older patients with dementia receiving home health care services: Prevalence, predictors, and outcomes

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2023 Dec;71(12):3768-3779. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18555. Epub 2023 Sep 6.


Background: Antipsychotic use is a safety concern among older patients in home health care (HHC), particularly for those with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence and predictors of antipsychotic use among older adults with and without ADRD who received HHC, and the association of antipsychotic use with outcomes among patients living with ADRD.

Methods: In this secondary analysis of adults ≥65 years receiving care from an HHC agency in New York in 2019 (N = 6684), we used data from the Outcome and Assessment Information Set, Medicare HHC claims, and home medication review results in the electronic HHC records during a 60-day HHC episode. ADRD was identified by diagnostic codes. Functional outcome was the change in the composite activities of daily living (ADL) score from HHC admission to HHC discharge (measured in 5833 patients), where a positive score means improvement and a negative score means decline. Data were analyzed using logistic (predictors) and linear regression (association with outcome) analyses.

Results: The point prevalence of antipsychotic use was 17.2% and 6.6% among patients with and without ADRD, respectively. Among patients living with ADRD, predictors of antipsychotic use included having greater ADL limitations (odds ratio [OR] = 1.30, p = 0.01), taking more medications (OR = 1.04, p = 0.02), having behavioral and psychological symptoms (OR = 5.26, p = 0.002), and living alone (OR = 0.52, p = 0.06). Among patients living with ADRD, antipsychotic use was associated with having less ADL improvement at HHC discharge (β = -0.70, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: HHC patients living with ADRD were more likely to use antipsychotics and to experience worse functional outcomes when using antipsychotics. Antipsychotics should be systematically reviewed and, if contraindicated or unnecessary, deprescribed. Efforts are needed to improve HHC patients' access to nonpharmacological interventions and to provide education for caregivers regarding behavioral approaches to manage symptoms in ADRD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease and related dementias; antipsychotics; dementia’ polypharmacy; home health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnosis
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antipsychotic Agents