Management of the Agitated Elderly Patient in the Nursing Home: The Role of the Atypical Antipsychotics

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Agitation is a frequent and troublesome problem in the long-term care setting. The term agitation is a nonspecific descriptor of a variety of verbal, vocal, and motor behaviors that can be unsafe, disruptive, and distressing to staff, families, and patients alike. Agitation can occur as a result of psychiatric and nonpsychiatric conditions, and appropriate treatment needs to be directed at the target symptoms. Optimal results are achieved with a combination of behavioral and pharmacologic interventions. In this review, we examine some of the causes and interventions that can assist physicians caring for the agitated elderly in long-term care settings. The role of the atypical antipsychotics is discussed in detail.

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 19):50–55