Doctors write millions of prescriptions a year for drugs to calm people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But research suggests that non-drug approaches actually work better, and carry far fewer risks.
A new study is the result of two decades’ worth of research on drugs like antipsychotics and antidepressants, and non-drug approaches that help caregivers address behavioral issues in dementia patients.
The findings recommend that non-drug approaches that focus on training spouses, adult children, or staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be the first choice for treating symptoms such as irritability, agitation, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, aggression, apathy, and delusions.
To address this, researchers created DICE (Describe, Investigate, Evaluate, and Create), a framework that doctors and caregivers can use to make the most of what’s already known. The framework is tailored to each person with dementia and can be adapted as symptoms change.