Alternatives to antipsychotics medicines

Having worked in dozens of facilities and homes, I can confidently say that the use of antipsychotics to treat the more severe symptoms of Alzheimer's are overused. Many times they are given as soon as behaviors begin, rather than trying non-medicinal interventions, such as deescalation or the use of coping strategies. However, there are circumstances when a person escalates quickly, becoming a risk of harm to themselves and others. In these situations, the use of drugs to maintain safety is more than justified. In my opinion, caregivers are quick to administer medications because they are not properly trained to deal with agitated persons. In addition, most caregivers are unaware of the dangers of using antipsychotics to treat those with Alzheimer's. There are currently no drugs approved by the FDA to treat the psychosis of those with any type of dementia. The alternative is to use these medicines that provide temporary relief, and when taken long-term shorten a persons life. Clearly, caregivers need more training.

Matthew Call, ET, CSFS, CDP

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