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We have been using Tamazepram to help her sleep and Xanax for agitation throughout the day. Neither one really works that well. She is always up moving around and won't sit still for long. Sometimes, I don't see how she goes for a few days without getting good rest! She is so sweet usually but has gotten a lot worse wanting to go home, seeing her parents, and thinking everything needs to be locked up because someone might get in her house. Sometimes she cries and gets upset with us. Now the dr has prescribed Risperidone and says to give it day and night when needed but make sure it's 6 hrs between doses. I have read about this drug and it terrifies me! I have found things that say not to give it to dementia patients and it can cause stroke/death! She has never taken much medication except a blood pressure medicine and Namenda. Can anyone suggest something besides an antipsychotic drug that has helped them? We are desperate to find something to help her rest better and not get so agitated but not make her zombie like and have so many horrible side effects! Thank you!

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There is a chemically produced version of one of the components of marijuana that I've heard also does wonders for agitation and anxiety. Dronabinol? Something like that. I'm sure you can google it. It does NOT have any warnings about DEATH if taken by the elderly with dementia, unlike the antipsychotics.

I'm sorry, but I don't care if all the docs in the world use a drug off label and some people have good success with it. There is a reason why it is labeled NOT to use with the elderly with dementia. And for docs to use it specifically for the purpose for which it was NOT intended, makes me wonder. Would you use this same antipsychotic on your teenager if there was a warning by the FDA specifically NOT to use in teenagers because of an increased risk of death? Heck NO you would not, and you know it! Think about that.
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Dosage of medications is what causes excessive sleepiness. Antipsychotics are wonder drugs for those with agitation. Yes, there is a black box warning about strokes, etc in the elderly. Most drugs carry the same type of warning, not just antipsychotics. And some will have the exact opposite effect as intended.

My mom was not able to take ativan, completely opposite effect. She became very aggressive and angry. Seroquel worked wonders. She started with 12.5 mg once a day, about 4:00, to help with sundowning behaviors. Over the course of four years the dosage gradually increased to 75 mg, still once a day. The maximum recommended dosage for Seroquel is 400 mg a day.

Try the med that doctor has prescribed. If it doesn't work have doc prescribe another to try. Think of giving these meds as helping mom to be comfortable. That is the objective, isn't it? And always remember how hard it is on grandma to feel this way, to say nothing of the caregiver.
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You can try medical marijuana depending on the state you live in. I take care of my 83 yr old grandmother with stage 6 dementia. She gets extremely agitated and mean. I also didn't want her on anti psychotic meds. I just started out with marijuana infused chocolate and it worked wonders! Wonderful. The only downside I saw was a rapid tolerance so I had to keep increasing the dose. Good luck!
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My 95-year-old father was on Risperidone. It worked well for two days but then he started exhibiting bizarre behaviors and he was up all night rearranging the bedroom. He became very weak. I read about the side effects and I did not think this medication was right for him. I would not give him this drug again. Not everyone can tolerate this medication. Keep in close contact with your doctor so that he or she can monitor the situation and perhaps take your grandmother off this medication and prescribe something else.
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To learn more about sleep issues you might try checking out The Sleep Doctor online. Dr Michael Brues ( pronounced Bruce) is considered a leading expert on sleep.
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Risperdone is a 2nd generation antipsychotic that is used off label for agitation and psychosis in dementia patients. It works. Like all drugs in the elderly, care must be taken. Watch for side effects. But it can also be very beneficial and is frequently used with good effects. This is not a zombie-type medication.
Blessings,
Jamie
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