Most patients with dementia have some behavioural and psychological symptoms. While aggression and agitation are easily recognised, symptoms such as apathy may be overlooked. Behavioural and psychological symptoms should be managed without drugs whenever possible. Although there is little evidence to support their use, antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed to people with dementia. Before prescribing it is important to exclude other causes of altered behaviour, such as pain or infection. Some symptoms may be artefacts of memory loss rather than psychosis. Patients with dementia who are prescribed antipsychotic drugs have an increased risk of falls, hospitalisation and death. They should be regularly monitored for adverse effects. If the patient’s symptoms resolve with drug treatment, reduce the dose after two or three months. Stop the drug if the symptoms do not return.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Antipsychotic drug therapy