Dealing with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: a general overview
Heymans Institute of Pharmacology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Abstract: Dealing with the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) is often complex. Given the controversy with regard to antipsychotics for behavioral problems in people with dementia, there has been a renewed emphasis on nonpharmacological interventions, with progress in the design of the relevant studies. Potential nonpharmacological interventions for BPSD are: cognitive training/stimulation, rehabilitative care, activities of daily living, music therapy, massage/touch, physical activity, education/training of professionals, and education and psychosocial support of informal caregivers. Use of antipsychotics in the management of BPSD is controversial due to limited efficacy and the risk of serious adverse effects, but credible alternatives remain scarce. The problem of chronic use of antipsychotics in nursing homes should be tackled. Discontinuation of antipsychotic medication in older individuals with BPSD appears to be feasible. Discontinuation efforts are needed to differentiate between patients for whom antipsychotics have no added value and patients for whom the benefits outweigh the risks.
Keywords: behavioral symptoms, psychological symptoms, dementia, interventions, nonpharmacological intervention
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