Administering medicines to individuals with dementia

8 August 2016

There are many forms of medication used to treat symptoms of dementia such as; Pain Killers Anti anxiety drugs Tranquillisers Anti Psychotic Drugs – used to treat challenging and disruptive behaviour such as aggression or agitation. Anti depressants – it is not uncommon for someone with dementia to become depressed this can sometimes make the memory of a person with dementia worse. 1. 2 Painkillers are used for individuals with dementia to relive pain, sickness. Anti depressants can be effective treatment for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Anti depressant drugs like citalopram may help reduce agitation. Anti depressants can also treat apathy (when a person shows a general lack of interest and motivation), which is thought to be the most common behavioural change seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Other positive affects of commonly used medications are brighter moods, reduction in hallucinations, and reduction in aggression, restlessness and sleep deprivation. Negative effects of taking commonly used drugs are nausea, headache, loss of appetite and poor sleep patterns and tiredness. 1.

3 Anti psychotic drugs reduce agitation, aggression and hallucinations, challenging and disruptive behaviour. The individual should be able to participate in daily living tasks and interact more socially. They should be able to make more decisions for themselves. However there are risks with taking these drugs such as risks of a person experiencing cardiovascular disease such as stroke or heart attack, it can also make other symptoms of dementia worse and cause drowsiness, trembling, constipation and dry mouth. In people who have dementia with Lewy Bodies there can be a risk of immobility, inability to communicate and rigidity.

In dementia patients it can cause restlessness and an increased risk of pneumonia. Therefore in most cases these drugs are only used when there are sever symptoms of challenging and disruptive behaviour that pose a risk. 1. 4 It is important to record and report side effects/adverse reactions to medication, as it will ensure the right medication is used so that pain can be controlled, mental ill health can be supported. It is then possible to manage conditions effectively with the right treatment and make accurate judgements.

Documenting side effects will also raise awareness as to the individual’s condition and allergies to the medication so that it isn’t used again. 1. 5 PRN medication is ‘as required’ medication and can be used to support individuals with dementia who may be in pain. It can reduce pain and can prevent aggressive behaviour, which is linked to pain. Having medication as required can help with mental ill health conditions as anti psychotics can be given as required when behaviour is challenging and disruptive. Individuals have the opportunity to have control of their own lives and medication as they can request it when they feel they need it.

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