FAQ: “What are the treatments for aggression in Alzheimer’s disease?”
Managing aggression in Alzheimer’s, safely
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. One of the challenges of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s is managing aggressive behaviors. These behaviors can be distressing for both the individual with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, but there are treatments available to help manage them.
Beware of off-label prescription medications for people living with Alzheimer’s
Antipsychotic medications, which alter the balance of chemicals in the brain to change mood and behavior, are often used to manage aggression in individuals with Alzheimer’s. However, while there is an Alzheimer’s-specific aggression drug in clinical trials now, there are currently no FDA-approved antipsychotics for use specifically in Alzheimer’s. Off-label use of these medications can be dangerous when mis-prescribed.
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Non-pharmacological interventions for aggression caused by Alzheimer’s
Non-pharmacological approaches can also be effective in managing aggression in individuals with Alzheimer’s. These may include activities such as music therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy and more. Simple changes to the environment, such as reducing noise levels and providing adequate lighting, can also help reduce aggression.
Behavioral interventions, such as redirecting the individual’s attention and offering reassurance, can also be effective in managing aggression in individuals with Alzheimer’s. If non-pharmacological approaches and environmental modifications are not effective, talk with your doctor or another specialist about additional strategies for managing aggression, including individualized care plans and special training for caregivers on how to respond to aggressive behaviors.
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Treatment for aggression in Alzheimer’s disease should be tailored to the individual. An effective treatment might involve a combination of approaches as laid out by a person’s doctor and/or care team.