In the British Medical Journal, a team of University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University experts on aging have called for an end to the use of “behavior-calming drugs” in people with dementia.
“(N)on-drug approaches should be the first choice for treating dementia patients’ common symptoms such as irritability, agitation, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, aggression, apathy and delusions,” stated a press release about their clinical review.
“The evidence for non-pharmaceutical approaches to the behavior problems often seen in dementia is better than the evidence for antipsychotics, and far better than for other classes of medication,” the lead author stated in the press release. “The issue and the challenge is that our health care system has not incentivized training in alternatives to drug use, and there is little to no reimbursement for caregiver-based methods.”
According to the press release, the researchers stated that the best evidence supports the training of professional or non-professional caregivers to make behavioral and environmental interventions. In their review, the researchers laid out a framework for action called “DICE” for Describe, Investigate, Create and Evaluate. “The framework tailors approaches to each person with dementia, and as symptoms change,” stated the press release.
Time to ‘just say no’ to behavior-calming drugs for Alzheimer patients? Experts say yes (University of Michigan Health System press release on ScienceDaily, March 3, 2015)
Kales, Helen C., Laura N. Gitlin, and Constantine G. Lyketsos. “Assessment and Management of Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia.” BMJ 350 (March 2, 2015): h369. doi:10.1136/bmj.h369. (Abstract)