Caring for People with Dementia and
A Step-by-Step Evidence-Based Approach
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This approach begins with evaluation and treatment of common causes of behaviors, then uses nondrug approaches to management. Antipsychotics are reserved for severe cases due to potential side effects, which include death. Document all behaviors, symptoms,
interventions and outcomes. Sections are color‐coded to help guide you to accompanying resources, which are italicized in bold.
Blue=Evaluation. Yellow=Nondrug. Pink=Antipsychotics.
• Clearly characterize and document behavior or symptom, including frequency, severity, triggers and consequences.
• Consider environmental factors and triggers. —Are they modifiable? • Perform medical evaluation (delirium, medical conditions, pain, depression, drugs). See Common Causes of Problem Behaviors
(on other side), Delirium Assessment and Management, and
Drugs that May Cause Delirium or Problem Behaviors.
—Address these causes if they are identified.
• Discuss with family any history that may explain or manage the behavior, e.g. resident habits, preferences, activities they enjoy.
2. Manage with nondrug approaches
• Engage in meaningful activities, redirect, provide clear communication, etc. See Nondrug Management.
3. Does the behavior pose risks to the resident or others, or
is the resident severely distressed?
• If yes, nondrug approaches fail, and medical workup does not reveal another cause, consider drug therapy targeted at behaviors.
4. Monitor drug therapy for effectiveness and side effects. Continue
nondrug management.
5. Consider antipsychotic dose reduction or discontinuation if the
drug is not effective, side effects occur, or the behaviors have been manageable.
Re‐assess need for drug therapy periodically, at least twice a year.
6. Use prevention and maintenance approaches to reduce further
• Clear communication, meaningful activities, etc.
• Simplify and create a calm environment • Manage medical conditions, depression, pain, etc.
• See Nondrug Management
Evaluation of Problem Behaviors
in Residents with Dementia
Common Causes of Problem Behaviors
• Constipation, urinary retention • Fatigue, insomnia, poor sleep • Anxiety, fear, depression • Impaired speech, frustration • Autonomy/privacy
• Caregiver approaches • Misinterpretation of • Institutional routines, expectations and demands • Changes from normal routine Delirium, secondary to medical issues such as:
• Medication side effects
• Metabolic/electrolyte Consider the Following Assessments
• Temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration, oxygen saturation • Signs of constipation or urinary retention • Changes in breath sounds • Peripheral edema • Fluid status: orthostatic blood pressure, mucous membranes
Common Sources of Pain:
• Pressure ulcers, other skin lesions, eye pain from corneal abrasion • Joint pain, other musculoskeletal pain, foot pain (poorly • Oral pain related to dentures/mouth ulceration
• Hearing: check hearing aids, ear wax • Vision: check glasses • See Delirium Assessment and Management
Urinalysis or other urinary symptoms
Blood glucose, CBC with differential, electrolytes if appropriate
Drug side effects:

• See Drugs that May Cause Delirium or Problem Behaviors
Recent Changes: environmental, routine, family, drugs, medical
Delirium Assessment and Management
Definition of Delirium Acute onset of impaired attention, cognition (memory, orientation,
language), consciousness, perception, behaviors and/or emotions that may fluctuate, have a medical cause and are not due to
dementia. Often called "acute confusion." Terminal delirium: irreversible and can occur in the days before dying; antipsychotics used more liberally for comfort in these cases.
1. Is the resident more confused today than usual? If yes, the
resident might have delirium and a brief cognitive assessment should be done.
2. Brief Cognitive Assessment: Resident with the level of dementia
indicated can usually perform these attention‐based tasks, while those with delirium cannot. Severe dementia is difficult to test. Change in cognitive status is usually determined by observation. Compare current status to recent baseline.
• Mild Dementia: list days of week and months of year backwards.
• Moderate Dementia: count backwards from 20 to 1.
3. Delirium Screening: See the screening tool, derived from the
Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), CAM‐ICU and MDS, on the other side.
4. If the screening suggests delirium, assess and treat possible causes:
• Vitals (pulse, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate, pulse oximetry, pain).
• Physical examination to diagnose infections or other acute medical conditions such as constipation, pneumonia, pressure ulcers, MI (heart attack), CVA/TIA (stroke).
• Basic laboratory evaluation (urinalysis, creatinine, sodium, potassium, calcium, glucose, CBC with differential).
• Review medications with particular attention to anticholinergics, benzodiazepines or new medications (see Drugs that May Cause
Delirium or Problem Behaviors). Discontinue if benefit does not
outweigh potential harm.
• Review restraints (foley catheter, IV lines, other tethers) and discontinue if benefit does not outweigh potential harm.
• Assess pain—Is pain management adequate and appropriate? 5. Use nondrug management:
• Sleep: Allow continuous sleep at night. Keep noise down. Recognize that an altered sleep‐wake cycle is often a symptom of • Orientation: Orient to date and place. Clock and calendar in room. Light on from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (sunrise to sunset). Always introduce yourself.
• Environment: Keep hearing aids and glasses accessible. Offer beverage of choice frequently for hydration. Encourage low‐key family visits.
6. Use antipsychotic short‐term for agitation or distressing psychotic
symptoms, e.g. hallucinations.
• E.g. haloperidol 0.5 mg PO/IM q1 hour PRN agitation or distressing hallucinations. Can double dose if ineffective. Schedule once or twice daily dose based on the total amount needed to achieve treatment goal in 24 hours. When delirium resolves, discontinue the antipsychotic. Haldol is not recommended for dementia Delirium Screening Tool
Suspect delirium if answer is yes on items 1 + 2 + (3 or 4) below.
First perform a brief Interview of Mental Status, Staff Assessment, or brief cognitive test described on other side.
1. Acute onset [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] uncertain*
Is there evidence of an acute change in mental status from the resident's baseline? *If uncertain, gather more information.
2. Inattention [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] uncertain*
Does the resident have difficulty focusing attention (i.e., easily distracted or can't follow what is being said)? *If uncertain, perform an Attention Screening Examination (ASE): Directions: Say to the resident, "I am going to read you a series of
10 letters. Whenever you hear the letter ‘A', indicate by
squeezing my hand." Read letters from the following letter list in a
normal tone.
Scoring: Errors are counted when resident fails to squeeze on the
letter "A" and when the resident squeezes on any letter other than "A." Inattention is present if 3 or more errors are observed.
3. Disorganized thinking [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] uncertain*
Is the resident's thinking disorganized or incoherent, as evidenced by rambling or irrelevant conversation, unclear or illogical flow of ideas, unpredictable switching from subject to subject? *If uncertain, conduct the following question/command Questions:
1. Will a stone float on water? 2. Are there fish in the sea? 3. Does one pound weigh more than two pounds? 4. Can you use a hammer to pound a nail? Score: Resident earns 1 point for each correct answer out of 4.
Say to resident: "Hold up this many fingers" (Examiner holds two fingers in front of resident then puts them back down) "Now do the same thing with the other hand" (Not repeating the number of fingers).
Score: Resident earns 1 point if does entire command.
Disorganized thinking is present if combined scores are less than 4.
4. Altered Level of Consciousness [ ] yes [ ] no
Is the resident anything other than alert, calm and cooperative (at current time)? This may include vigilant (easily startled), lethargic
(frequently dozed off when asked questions), or stuperous (very
difficult to arouse and keep aroused), or comatose (could not be
Psychomotor retardation: (sluggishness, staring into space, staying in one position, moving slowly) may also count as a "yes" for this Nondrug Management of Problem
Behaviors and Psychosis in Dementia
Step 1: Assess and Treat Contributing Factors
FOCUS on one behavior at a time
• Note how often, how bad, how long and document • Ask: "What is really going on?" "What is causing the problem behavior?" "What is making it worse?" IDENTIFY what leads to or triggers problems
• Physical: pain, infection, hunger/thirst, other needs
• Psychological: loneliness, boredom, nothing to do
• Environment: too much/too little going on, lost
• Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, psychosis
REDUCE, ELIMINATE things that lead to or trigger the
• Treat medical/physical problems • Offer pain medications for comfort or to help cooperation • Address emotional needs: reassure, encourage, engage • Offer enjoyable activities to do alone, 1:1, small group • Remove or disguise misleading objects • Redirect away from people or areas that lead to problems • Try another approach; try again later • Find out what works for others; get someone to help • If the behavior is reduced or manageable, go to Step 3 • If the behavior persists, go to Step 2 Step 2: Select and Apply Interventions
CONSIDER retained abilities, preferences, resources
• Cognitive level • Physical functional level • Long‐standing personality, life history, interests • Preferred personal routines, daily schedules • Personal/family/facility resources DEVELOP a person‐centered plan
• Adjust caregiver approaches • Adapt/change the environment • Select/use best evidence‐based interventions tailored to the resident's unique needs/interests/abilities Step 2: Select and Apply Interventions, Continued
ADJUST your approach to the resident
• Personal approach: cue, prompt, remind, distract; focus
on resident's wishes, interests, concerns; use/avoid touch as indicated. Do not try to reason, teach new routines, or ask to "try harder." • Daily routines: simplify tasks and put them in a regular
order; offer limited choices; use long‐standing patterns & preferences to guide routines & activities.
• Communication style: simple words and phrases; speak
in short sentences; speak clearly; wait for answers; make eye contact; monitor tone of voice and body language.
• Unconditional positive regard: do not confront,
challenge or explain misbeliefs (hallucinations, delusions, illusions); accept belief as real to the resident; reassure, comfort and distract.
ADAPT or CHANGE the environment
• Eliminate things that lead to confusion: clutter, TV,
radio, noise, people talking; reflections in mirrors/dark windows; misunderstood pictures or decor.
• Reduce things that cause stress: caffeine; extra people;
holiday decorations; public TV.
• Adjust stimulation: if overstimulated—reduce noise,
activity and confusion; if under stimulated (bored)— increase activity and involvement.
• Help with functioning: signs, cues, pictures help with
way finding; increase lighting to reduce misinterpretation • Involve in meaningful activities: personalized program of
1:1 and small group or large group as needed.
• Change the setting: secure outdoor areas; decorative
objects; objects to touch and hold; home‐like features; smaller, divided recreational and dining areas; natural and bright light; spa‐like bathing facilities; signs to help way finding.
SELECT and USE evidence‐based interventions
• Work with the team to fit the intervention to the resident.
• Check care plan for additional information.
• Contact supervisor with problems/issues.
Step 3: Monitor Outcomes and Adjust Course As Needed
• Track behavior problems using rating scale(s).
• Assure adequate "dose" (intensity, duration, frequency) of • Adapt/add interventions as needed to get the best possible outcomes.
• Make sure all people working with the resident understand and cooperate with the treatment plan and are trained as needed.
Drugs that May Cause Delirium
or Problem Behaviors
This reference card lists common and especially problematic drugs that may cause delirium or contribute to problem behaviors in residents with dementia. This does not always mean the drugs should not be used and not all such drugs are listed. If a resident develops delirium or has new problem behaviors, a careful review of all medications is All can cause delirium, e.g.
All psychiatric medications should CarbamazepineTegretol
be reviewed as possible causes, as GabapentinNeurontin
effects are unpredictable. LevetiracetamKeppra
Notable offenders include: Valproic acid Depakote
All opiates can cause delirium LorazepamAtivan
if dose is too high or increased too quickly. MethylphenidateRitalin
CodeineEmpirin, many others Hypnotics (Sleep Medications) e.g.
Tricyclic Antidepressants e.g.
MorphineMS Contin, MS IR
DoxepinSilenor, Sinequan
Most Parkinson's disease Difficult to distinguish drug medications can cause psychosis. effects from effects of infection. Amantadine – Symadine,
Others may contribute as well. Symmetrel Bromocriptine – Parlodel
Acyclovir – Zovirax
Levodopa – Sinemet , Stalevo
Valacyclovir – Valtrex
Pramipexole – Mirapex
Rasagiline – Azilect
Levofloxacin – Levaquin
Ropinrole – Requip
Ciprofloxacin – Cipro
Rotigotine – Neupro
Metronidazole – Flagyl
Selegiline – Eldepril, Emsam,
Vancomycin – Vancocin
Cardiac Medications Prednisone – Deltasone, etc. Digoxin – Digitek, Lanoxin
Testosterone – Androgel, etc. Drugs that May Cause Delirium
or Problem Behaviors
Anticholinergics—all drugs on this side of the card. May
impair cognition and cause psychosis. Drugs available
over‐the‐counter marked with *.
Bladder Antispasmodics Amitriptyline – Elavil
Darifenacin – Enablex
Clomipramine – Anafranil
Flavoxate – Urispas
Desipramine – Norpramin
Oxybutynin – Ditropan
Doxepin – Sinequan
Solifenacin – VESIcare
Imipramine – Tofranil
Tolterodine – Detrol
Nortriptyline – Aventyl, Pamelor
Trospium – Sanctura
Cough & Cold Medicines *Azelastine – Astepro
Tylenol‐PM, others Bromfed, Lodrane *Doxylamine – Unisom,
Carbinoxamine – Rondec
Medi‐Sleep Stomach and GI Tract *Clemastine – Tavist
Ulcer and Reflux:
Cyproheptadine – Periactin
*Cimetidine – Tagamet
*Dexbrompheniramine –Drixoral Glycopyrrolate – Robinul
*Ranitidine – Zantac
Atropine – Sal‐Tropine, Atreza
Hydroxyzine – Atarax, Vistaril
Belladonna Alkaloids
Olopatadine – Pataday, Patanol
Donnatal, Bellamine S, Promethazine – Phenergan
Bel‐Tabs, B&O suppreties Triprolidine – Triacin‐C
Clidinium – Librax
Dicyclomine – Bentyl
Motion Sickness/Dizziness/ Hyoscyamine – Levsin, Anaspaz,
Methscopolamine – Pamine,
Pamine Forte Dramamine less drowsy Propantheline – Pro‐Banthine
Promethazine – Phenergan
*Scopolamine – Scopace,
Chlorpromazine – Thorazine
Transderm‐scop, Maldemar Clozapine – Clozaril
Trimethobenzamide – Tigan
Loxapine – Loxitane
Olanzapine – Zyprexa
Movement Disorders Pimozide – Orap
Benztropine – Cogentin
Quetiapine – Seroquel
Trihexyphenidyl – Artane
Thioridazine – Mellaril
Dementia Antipsychotic Guide
Monitoring for Response and Side Effects Monitoring for Response • Clearly document treatment target symptoms and
whether they improve. The drug should be stopped if it does not help. Symptoms may change over time, with or without drug treatment.
• Do not expect an immediate response. Sedation from
the drug may explain much of any effect seen in the first • Do not ask for higher doses too quickly. It may take
several days to a week or more to see the full effect, depending on the drug (talk to prescriber for details). Higher doses cause more side effects.
Monitoring for Side Effects Report to RN or prescriber if these problems occur Movement Side Observe for tremors, tight muscles, changes in walking (gait), falls, abnormal movements (tardive dyskinesia) such as face or eye twitching, difficulty swallowing, signs of parkinsonism, restlessness (akathisia), drooling.
Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) at baseline, every 6 months, or if movement side effects are suspected.
Central Nervous SystemSedation Observe for sleepiness, slow to respond, hard to wake up. Use sedation scale if needed.
Confusion, Observe for worsening mental status or behavior changes compared to normal. Seems more confused; sedated or or other cognitive agitated; worsened communication abilities; problems paying attention; slower movements or speech. These may be a sign of a serious medical illness or a drug side effect. Delirium screening tool, e.g. CAM (Confusion Assessment Method) if delirium is suspected.
Psychotic Observe for: Hallucinations: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling things that aren't there. Delusions: false (delusions or fixed beliefs that a person holds in spite of evidence they are not true. Antipsychotics usually lessen these symptoms, but sometimes make them worse.
Cardiovascular / MetabolicOrthostatic Observe for signs of dizziness or falls. Check an orthostatic Hypotension blood pressure by checking the blood pressure when lying (rapid drop in down then again shortly after standing. Check monthly or if blood pressure on signs of dizziness occur. More frequent on initiation or after dose increase. Drugs sometimes cause an unwanted drop in blood pressure.
Dementia Antipsychotic Guide
Monitoring for Response and Side Effects cont'd
Edema (swelling) Observe for swelling; most common in legs and ankles, but can occur in other areas.
Weight gain Check weight monthly. Consider weekly weight for 1 month if overweight. Observe for big increases in appetite; hungry even after eating; unwanted increases in weight.
Blood glucose at baseline, 3 & 6 months, then every 6 Diabetes (high months. Also PRN if symptoms or mental status change. blood sugar) Observe for confusion, increased thirst, frequent urination, unusual tiredness, blurred vision or weakness.
Fasting blood lipid panel at baseline, 3 & 6 months, then every 6 months. Especially if resident has cardiovascular risk factors: e.g. obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia.
Urinary Symptoms Observe for changes in frequency – increased or decreased with urinary retention; worsened incontinence. Pain on urination. May be infection or drug-related problems.
Observe for fewer bowel movements; hard stools; poor appetite; gut pain or distention.
Other possible adverse effects include: stroke, arrhythmias and neuroleptic malignant syndrome Guidance for Special Populations Parkinson's disease (PD) and Lewy body dementia (LBD): Movement disorder treatments (with dopamine agonists, carbidopa-levodopa, anticholinergics) can cause psychosis or delirium. Prior to antipsychotic use, consider reducing the dose of these drugs to see if the psychosis or behaviors resolve or become manageable.
Residents with PD or LBD are very sensitive to adverse effects, particularly movement side effects and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. If antipsychotics are used, expert guidelines recommend quetiapine or clozapine due to lower movement
side effect risk.
Renal Impairment: Need to reduce the risperidone dose. Titrate slowly.
Hepatic Impairment: Will possibly need to reduce dose of olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone. Use caution with all.
Dementia Antipsychotic Guide
for Care Providers
General Guidelines 1. Look for reversible causes of challenging behaviors or other
target symptoms prior to asking for a drug to treat them. Examples include medical problems, drugs, modifiable stressors.
2. Try nondrug strategies first. Keep using these strategies even
if antipsychotics are used.
3. Clearly document treatment targets (symptoms) before and
after a strategy or drug is tried. Include frequency, severity, time of day, and environmental or other triggers of symptoms.
4. Use of an antipsychotic should be well justified. The
treatment target symptom must present a danger to the person
or others, or cause the resident to have one of the following:
• inconsolable or persistent distress • a major decline in function • substantial difficulty receiving needed care Appropriate and inappropriate treatment targets from CMS are listed in the boxes below. Generally antipsychotics should not be used for inappropriate treatment targets.
5. Monitor for effectiveness and side effects. (see previous card)
6. If the drug doesn't help, it should be stopped.
Appropriate Antipsychotic Treatment Targets:
• Aggressive behavior (especially physical)
• Hallucinations: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling things
that seem real to the resident but not others. For example, hearing voices or seeing people who are not there.
• Delusions: false personal beliefs that a resident has in spite of
evidence they are not true. For example, thinks husband or wife is having an affair without reason, or family members are imposters. Note: memory problems are sometimes mistaken for delusions, e.g. thinks people are stealing items that were misplaced and forgotten.
• Other severe distress as described above in #4 General Guidelines.
Inappropriate Antipsychotic Treatment Targets:
• Not being social or friendly • Poor self-care • Impaired memory • Uncooperativeness without aggressive behavior.
• Not caring about what is going on around them.
• Speech or behaviors that are not dangerous to the resident The information provided on these pocket cards is adapted from work of the University of Iowa. Visit for more information and Provided to you by Kansas Foundation for Medical Care (KFMC) as a part of the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (Great Plains QIN) for the Great Plains Quality Care This material was prepared by the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents presented do not necessarily reflect CMS policy.



RIASSUNTO DELLE CARATTERISTICHE DEL PRODOTTO 1. DENOMINAZIONE DEL MEDICINALE "nome del medicinale" 150 mg compresse / capsule rigide "nome del medicinale" 300 mg compresse 2. COMPOSIZIONE QUALITATIVA E QUANTITATIVA Una compressa / capsula contiene: principio attivo: litio carbonato 150 / 300 mg Per l'elenco completo degli eccipienti, vedere 6.1. 3. FORMA FARMACEUTICA Compresse / Capsule rigide

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