Medical Express had an interesting article about a review in The Cochrane Library that found that education and social support for staff and caregivers can reduce the use of antipsychotics in nursing home patients with dementia. Improved staff training and education, communication between personal and professional caregivers and support for everyone involved in the patient's care are effective non-pharmacological methods to try before using antipsychotic medications.
Unfortunately nursing homes use antipsychotic drugs as the first line of treatment for any challenging behavior in nursing homes, despite the fact that they can have serious side effects including over-sedation, falls and cardiovascular problems.
"Despite the reduction in antipsychotic use with the behavioral interventions, none of the four individual studies found significant changes in the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. I agree with the main findings but further research to study the effectiveness of non-pharmacological approaches to managing behavioral symptoms of dementia is sorely needed."