New Directions for Psychedelics — Including Dementia Care

The success of preliminary studies has served to re-legitimate psychedelic research in Western medicine.

Helping to Treat Agitation, Behaviors, and Delirium?

Those who work in skilled-care settings are intimately familiar with the limitations of current pharmaceuticals in managing resident behaviors. Our aging Western cultures are facing a massive crisis involving the overuse of anti-psychotics, with 1 in 5 nursing home residents currently subjected to this class of drugs to treat agitation, behaviors, and delirium.

Enhancing the Benefits of the Arts?

One irony in the dementia field is that while drugs have failed spectacularly despite billions of dollars of investment, one consistently effective “intervention” in long-term care is the arts. Storytelling, music, dance, gardening, pet therapy, and other activities we often jokingly call “socialceuticals” (since they are almost comically superior to current drugs for dementia) connect to the quintessential humanity of the cognitively frail, allowing for rich expression, the forging of bonds with caregivers, and improved QOL.

The Future

Obviously, in the absence of data, the promise of psychedelics is, at present, mostly speculative or theoretical. Much must be learned about proper dosages, safety and supervision protocols, ethics around consent, how to address adverse reactions, staff training, and other questions that crop up around modern treatment regimens for these ancient compounds.

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