American Geriatrics Society

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 21, 2013; revised April 23, 2015

Don’t use antipsychotics as the first choice to treat behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

People with dementia often exhibit aggression, resistance to care and other challenging or disruptive behaviors. In such instances, antipsychotic medicines are often prescribed, but they provide limited and inconsistent benefits, while posing risks, including over sedation, cognitive worsening and increased likelihood of falls, strokes and mortality. Use of these drugs in patients with dementia should be limited to cases where non-pharmacologic measures have failed and patients pose an imminent threat to themselves or others. Identifying and addressing causes of behavior change can make drug treatment unnecessary.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

1-5: The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) established a work group chaired by the Vice Chair of Clinical Practice and Models of Care Committee (CPMC). Work group members were drawn from that committee, as well as the Ethics, Ethnogeriatrics and Quality and Performance Measurement (QPMC) committees. AGS members were invited to submit feedback and recommendations as to what they thought should be included in the list via an electronic survey. The workgroup first narrowed the list down to the top 10 potential tests or procedures. The workgroup then reviewed the evidence and sought expert advice to further refine the list to five recommendations, which were then reviewed and approved by the AGS Executive Committee and the Chairs/Vice Chairs of CPMC, Ethics and QPMC.

6-10: The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) used the same work group from its first list to develop its second list. The group was chaired by the Chair of Clinical Practice and Models of Care Committee (CPMC). Work group members were drawn from that committee, as well as the Ethics, Ethnogeriatrics and Quality and Performance Measurement (QPMC) committees. AGS members were invited to submit feedback and recommendations as to what they thought should be included in a Choosing Wisely® list via an electronic survey. The workgroup then narrowed the list down and reviewed the evidence, seeking expert advice to further refine the list to five recommendations, which were then reviewed and approved by the AGS Executive Committee and the Chairs/Vice Chairs of CPMC, Ethics and QPMC.

On April 23, 2015, AGS revised items 2,3,6,7,8 and 10. Read more about these changes and rationale.

Sources

The American Geriatrics Society 2012 Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel. American Geriatrics Society Updated Beers Criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Apr;60(4):616-31.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and Social Care Institute for Excellence NICE-SCIE. National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Clinical guidelines #42: Dementia: Supporting people with dementia and their careers in health and social care [Internet] London. 2006 Nov: Amended 2011 Mar [cited 2012 Oct 16]. Available from: www.nice.org.uk/CG042

Maher A, Maglione M, Bagley S, Suttorp M, Hu JH, Ewing B, Wang Z, Timmer M, Sultzer D, Shekelle PG. Efficacy and comparative effectiveness of atypical antipsychotic medications for off-label uses in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA [Internet]. 2011 Sep 28;306(12):1359-69.

Schneider LS, Tariot PN, Dagerman KS, Davis SM, Hsiao JK, Ismail MS, Lebowitz BD, Lyketsos CG, Ryan JM, Stroup TS, Sultzer DL, Weintraub D, Lieberman JA; CATIE-AD Study Group. Effectiveness of atypical antipsychotic drugs in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. N Engl J Med [Internet]. 2006 Oct 12;355(15):1525-38.

Gitlin LN, Kales HC, Lyketsos, CG. Nonpharmacologic management of behavioral symptoms in dementia. JAMA. 2012 Nov 21;308(19):2020-9.