March 19, 2015 – Behavior and Alzheimer’s


Anchor lead:  Recent federal data reveal that use of a class of medications to control behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease just keeps going up, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Atypical antipsychotics are a class of medications sometimes used to keep behavior problems among those with Alzheimer’s disease controlled, but that comes with a price, including mortality risk.  Now federal data indicate that use of these drugs is increasing.  Constantine Lyketsos, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Johns Hopkins, says there are other choices.

Lyketsos:  We need to understand what the alternatives are, we need to develop the incentives that will allow us to use them.  Right now, if I as a physician in practice am confronted with a patient who has an agitated behavior that’s relatively dangerous to them or someone else, I don’t have many choices. The alternatives that might work, such as having the nursing staff or caregivers work with the patient behaviorally, those interventions are not reimbursed by the insurance system.   :30

Lyketsos says finding an Alzheimer’s disease expert to manage your loved one can minimize use of atypical antipsychotic medications.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.