Medicines management for people with dementia

Medicines management for people with dementia

Gary Mitchell Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Medical Biology Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Shauna Rooney Resident experience care specialist, Four Seasons Health Care, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Colin Sheeran Dementia lead project facilitator, Four Seasons Health Care, London, England
Joanne Strain Head of nursing, Four Seasons Health Care, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your understanding of the pharmacological interventions that can be used in people with dementia, ensuring appropriate and effective care for these patients

  • To be aware of the challenges and cautions associated with medicines administration in people with dementia, thus supporting patient safety

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Dementia care has evolved over the years, with a rise in person-centred non-pharmacological interventions such as reminiscence therapy, reality orientation and validation therapy. While these non-pharmacological interventions are an important facet of dementia care, nurses also require up-to-date knowledge of the medicines used to manage the symptoms of dementia, including antidepressants, cognitive enhancers and analgesics. Nurses should also understand the effects of behaviour-modifying medicines such as antipsychotics, anxiolytics and hypnotics, which are often overused or inappropriately prescribed in people with dementia. This article discusses the use of all these medicines in dementia care. It also examines the effect of polypharmacy on people with dementia, as well as some of the challenges involved in medicines administration in this patient group, such as covert administration of medicines, polypharmacy and non-adherence.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11079


Mitchell G, Rooney S, Sheeran C et al (2018) Medicines management for people with dementia. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11079

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 03 December 2018

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