What Drugs Are Used to Calm Dementia Patients?
For family members and friends of individuals who are living with dementia, each day can be challenging. Some older adults may elect to treat symptoms of their condition using alternative therapies like herbal supplements and music therapy. However, when individuals begin to feel restless, anxious, depressed, or aggressive, it might be time to consider prescription medications.
What drugs are used to calm dementia patients? There are many safe, approved medications that can help treat the behavioral problems that accompany dementia. After conducting a thorough evaluation, a physician can help individuals select a prescription medication that best fits their needs.
Individuals with dementia will often experience behavioral changes like depression, irritability, and anxiety. In the later stages of the disease, these changes become more severe and may include restlessness, emotional distress, agitation, and anxiety. Caregivers may witness stressful and upsetting symptoms like verbal or even physical outbursts, intense anger and aggression, hallucinations, and delusions. Many dementia patients also have difficulty sleeping and may experience what is known as “sundowning,” or when their behavioral problems present themselves at dusk and continue well into the night.
For Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, even the simplest of changes can trigger behavioral problems. Triggering events may include a change in surroundings or being removed from familiar surroundings, a change in their daily schedule, or a change in food or clothing. If an individual with dementia is experiencing emotional distress, caregivers should try to isolate what is causing the behavioral outburst and then adjust the individual’s current environment so they feel safe and secure. Nevertheless, if non-drug remedies are no longer helping, the introduction of medications might be the next best step.
Types of Medication for Dementia
There are three types of medications used to treat Alzheimer’s and dementia: antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics.
Antidepressants are often prescribed when dementia patients experience fatigue, apathy, or lack of interest in daily activities. In earlier stages especially, patients may feel defeated that they can no longer function at the capacity they once did. Tackling highly cognitive activities like managing finances, for instance, can be nearly impossible. Realizing their decline is heartbreaking for many individuals. Antidepressants can elevate moods and also help prevent mood swings.
Individuals with dementia often feel restless or anxious. Because of this, caregivers may notice intense periods during which they engage in negative verbal or physical behavior. Anxiolytics, also known as anti-anxiety drugs, can be used to calm dementia patients. They may be used as a sleep aid as well. Similarly, antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to address aggression, hostility, delusions, and hallucinations.
Doctors may prescribe the following brand name drugs:
- Antidepressants: Celexa, Desyrel, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft
- Anxiolytics: Ativan and Serax
- Antipsychotic: Abilify, Clozaril, Geodon, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa
Additional medications for dementia include Aricept, Exelon, Namenda, Restoril, Xanax, Valium, and Razadyne.
Benefits of Treating Dementia With Medications
While there is no cure for dementia, taking medicine prescribed by a physician can have positive results. First and foremost, medications can help calm individuals suffering from worrisome symptoms like anxiety, depression, and agitation. The right medication can make life easier for family members and friends too, especially those who serve as caregivers. Drugs can also slow the progression of the disease, enhance cognitive function, and improve memory recall.
Nevertheless, it is important for caregivers to be aware that there is no guarantee their friend or family member will respond to the prescribed medication. There is also the possibility that the medications may actually worsen behavioral changes. Should this occur, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.
Dementia Care Options
Dementia is a progressive disease. This means it will only get worse over time. When it is no longer possible for family or friends to care for an individual with dementia at home, an assisted living community offering professional memory care can be the answer. In an assisted living community, well-qualified team members provide support, round-the-clock care, health monitoring, and 24/7 security. Team members also assist with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating.
Many assisted living communities offer innovative programs as well. These programs are designed to enhance each individual’s well-being and abilities. Music therapy, for instance, is an alternative wellness technique used for individuals with dementia. Simply listening to music or engaging with music by singing or playing an instrument can help lessen stress and increase memory recall. Pet therapy is a common technique used as well. Petting a cat or playing with a dog can work wonders for a stressed patient.
Dementia Care at The Sterling Aventura
At The Sterling Aventura, our memory care program is designed specifically for residents dealing with memory impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Each program is customized to meet the needs of each of the community’s residents on four levels. These include focusing on the individual’s physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual well-being.
The physical aspect ensures residents receive a healthy and nutritious diet and engage in exercise and activities. The social programs support already established relationships and encourage the creation of new ones with pets and people. The community also offers a variety of creative activities designed to get individuals involved mentally to help improve cognition and support personal spiritual beliefs and traditions.
Caregivers can achieve peace of mind knowing that well-trained and qualified staff in the community have the best interests of each resident in mind. The Sterling Aventura is dedicated to helping individuals live a safe, secure, and quality lifestyle.