Reproduced from Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, 2014.
- Medication should be used as last, not first resort, to manage distress
- People with dementia on psychotropic medicines should be prioritised for multidisciplinary review
- People with dementia on psychotropic medicines should be reviewed every three months
- Psychotropic medicines should be withdrawn gradually
Antipsychotic drugs are frequently prescribed with the aim of reducing symptoms of stress and distress in people with dementia. In Scotland in 2007, 17.7% of people with a diagnosis of dementia were prescribed an antipsychotic, compared to approximately 12% in 2005–2007 in one US study. Despite this high rate of use, antipsychotics have only limited benefit in treating symptoms of stress and distress in older people with dementia and carry significant risk of harm (delirium, cerebrovascular events, falls and all-cause mortality). In 2009, antipsychotics were estimated to cause approximately 1800 deaths and 1620 cerebrovascular events in people with dementia in the UK annually. However, clinical trial evidence in nursing home patients with dementia indicates that chronically prescribed antipsychotic drugs can be safely discontinued in most patients, with longer term follow-up suggesting a significant reduction in mortality.