Antipsychotics are ineffective in improving distress-related delirium in palliative care, according to a recent article in Neurology Today. In fact, researchers found antipsychotics to be less helpful than non-pharmacological approaches, indicating a need for alternative management strategies in patient care.
Non-medicating strategies might include “providing one-on-one sitters with patients who are beginning to develop delirium,” Penn Memory Center Co-Director Dr. Jason Karalwish wrote in expert commentary. These sitters could be “someone who can redirect a patient who’s climbing out of bed and provide some personal attention and comfort,” Karlawish wrote.
“Think about a typical case of delirium where someone starts crying out, ‘Help me!’” Karlawish challenged. “Rather than say that’s a druggable moment, we should think about the meaning of the behavior. It might be distressing to see, but there’s a messiness to death that oftentimes is part of the meaning we take from experience. Maybe we should ask, “how can I help you?’”
Learn about approaches to end-of-life care at Neurology Today.