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Dementia

Antipsychotic Medicine

​Antipsychotic medicine is used to treat some types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

Antipsychotic medicine can sometimes help people with dementia for a short time if they are:

  • seeing and hearing things others don’t see or hear, believing things that upset them (psychosis)
  • at risk of harming themselves or others because of aggression

These medicines don’t work for behaviours such as shouting, cursing, calling out, trouble sleeping, clapping, wandering, or poor social skills.

Antipsychotic medicine has many side effects. They also increase the risk of heart problems, strokes, and pneumonia.

They don’t help everyone and aren’t usually a long term solution. They should only be used as a last resort, at a very low dose. A care team member will speak with you if it’s believed this medicine might be needed.

The goal of the care team is to work with families to find the best ways to meet the person’s needs without using antipsychotic medicine.

Some antipsychotic medicine:

  • Haldol® (haloperidol)
  • Seroquel® (quetiapine)
  • Zyprexa® (olanzapine)
  • Risperdol® (risperidone)
  • Abilify® (aripiprazole)

Side Effects may include:

  • Confusion
  • Problems with memory
  • Trouble talking
  • Sleeping more or less
  • No energy or motivation
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Nightmares
  • Stiff or shaking muscles
  • Restlessness, pacing
  • Falls and trouble walking
  • Blurred vision, dry mouth
  • Drooling, trouble swallowing
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Not hungry, upset stomach

Disclaimer: This guide is for discussion purposes only. It’s not meant to be interpreted or used as a standard of medical practice.​​

Current as of: July 14, 2017

Author: Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services