Antipsychotic drugs are usually prescribed to people with dementia, but music and massage can be no less effective in treating agitation and aggression in dementia.
Concerns about chemical containment with antipsychotic drugs to combat the behavioral symptoms of agitation and aggression in dementia remain a concern in Australian nursing homes. These drugs have significant risks, such as an increased risk of fractures, falls, and early death.
Over the last decade, the level of neuroleptic prescriptions among older Australians has declined, but not much. Recent data focus on what alternatives to these drugs are available – so-called non-pharmacological treatments.
Other treatments defeat drugs for agitation and aggression
In this review of the evidence for nonpharmacological treatments and their comparisons with drugs, Canadian researchers compiled a number of studies that examined both types of treatment. A total of 163 were found. Some used treatments such as massage and sensory therapy (using simple massage to soothe and soothe the patient), music therapy (playing music of a patient they liked or might have liked in their youth) and interdisciplinary care (using several health professionals like nurses and physiotherapists to monitor and anticipate patient needs).
Music therapy and massage defeat drugs for arousal and aggression
Massage, sensory and music therapy are all better than medication dementia symptoms, while recreational therapy (physical activity, going outside), although beneficial, did not work as well.
One thing the researchers haven’t analyzed is the cost of these treatments – but they say they don’t have to be expensive. Indeed, downloading songs on a music a player or a five-minute massage or handshake with a loved one or someone you care for can provide therapy and even do it at home.
Another piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing the prescription of antipsychotics is the education of health professionals working in the field of care for the elderly.
Evidence suggests that many do not realize how high their prescription release is, and something as simple as showing their comparison to other agencies can help reduce drug use.
For reference: Watt, et al (2019). Comparative effectiveness of interventions in aggressive and agitated behavior in dementia: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine doi: 10.7326 / M19-0993.