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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dementia and Risperdal

My mother is in a nursing home and has dementia. Why are they giving her risperdal? Isn't that for people with schizophrenia?


Eleventh Hour LLC said...

Increasingly, antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed for elderly patients with dementia who also exhibit some symptoms of psychosis (hallucinations, bizarre thoughts) and/or behavioral disturbances (not cooperating with care, aggression). These symptoms do sometimes occur in patients with dementia. First, all non-drug treatments should be tried first for behavioral issues. Things to try include redirecting your Mom, in other words, helping her to focus on something else, or to change the conversation topic to distract her from the unwanted behavior. Also, it is very important to maintain her sleep-wake cycle. If that means keeping her awake when she wants to nap...well, you have to do it! And, keeping familiar objects around, not changing her environment and reorienting her to the day and time helps too. Unfortunately, medicine is often needed to enable caregivers to assist your mom with eating, showering, and other activities of daily living. Risperdal is used to help with the psychotic symptoms. Risperdal should be tried at a very low dose to minimize side effects. Some more common side effects are low blood pressure, insomnia, and weight gain. But I must tell you, these kinds of symptoms in elderly people should ALWAYS be thoroughly investigated for any medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Make sure you ask your Mom's Nurse Practitioner or Doctor if they have checked out all the medical possibilities for her symptoms BEFORE they give her the risperdal. And, once the risperdal is started, make sure you alert your Mom's Nurse Practitioner or Doctor to ANY and ALL changes you notice in your Mom.