Antipsychotics has long been prescribed to quell the agitation that many dementia patients experience.  Prescribing antipsychotics for this purpose is considered "atypical" or "off-label."  The US federal government has repeatedly issued warnings (2011, 2008) against this use of antipsychotics.  However, the prescriptions continue.

Antipsychotics are sedatives used to reduce hallucinations and abnormal behavior in patients with conditions such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia.  Dementia patients are known to have hallucinations or delusions.  Some patients become quite upset by their hallucinations or delusions.  For example, they may believe that an unknown person has entered their home and stolen their money or treasured possessions.

Unfortunately, antipsychotics have serious side-effects such as reducing the patient's life expectancy or giving them movement symptoms such as tremors which mimic Parkinson's Disease.  These side effects are particularly detrimental to patients who already have compromised balance and reduced vision as a result of the deterioration of their brains.

The government has recently announced a push to reduce the use of antipsychotics in dementia patients.  Not everyone agrees that this is a good move.


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