Alternative Medicine and Other Options for Reducing Antipsychotic Use

August 2, 2013 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​Pressure to reduce reliance on antipsychotic medications among nursing home residents, particularly those with dementia, has led to new interest in complementary and alternative medicine, according to an article in the July 2013 Caring for the Ages. One medical director of a physician service and hospice care organization notes that, although the goal of reducing the use of antipsychotics is important, providers need additional tools and strategies to manage residents’ behaviors. Music therapy, a common strategy in nursing homes that has the strongest evidence among many alternative therapies, requires attention to individual residents’ needs; what is soothing to one resident may be agitating to another. Music can be accompanied by other methods, such as hand massage or aromatherapy, which can be customized to each resident and their needs by time of day (e.g., to stimulate during the day, to calm at night).

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