There are good, evidence-based strategies to intervene in and reduce instances of agitation in dementia patients that don’t involve the administering of “ineffective and harmful” pharmaceutical medications, according to a review of the literature in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The UK-based researchers reviewed 33 randomized controlled trials in care homes and found that “person-centred care, communication skills training and adapted dementia care” significantly decreased “symptomatic and severe agitation” both immediately and for up to 6 months afterwards.
They found evidence supporting physical activities and music therapy as well, but not for aromatherapy or light therapy. “There are evidence-based strategies for care homes,” they concluded. “Future interventions should focus on consistent and long-term implementation through staff training.”
(Abstract) Non-pharmacological interventions for agitation in dementia: systematic review of randomised controlled trials (Livingston, Gill et al. British Journal of Psychiatry. December 2014. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.141119)