Antipsychotics in the elderly


University of Pittsburgh, WPIC, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213, USA


Abstract Neuroleptics are commonly prescribed medications in the geriatric population and have a broader spectrum of indications than in younger patients. In spite of the frequent use of neuroleptics in elderly patients with organic brain syndromes, there are relatively few studies that use double-blind, placebo-controlled methodology. The results of these studies are conflicting; however, there is sufficient evidence that symptoms of agitation, be-haviourial dyscontrol, and psychosis are often responsive to neuroleptic treatment. Elderly patients with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders may also benefit from neuroleptic treatment. As there is a potential for overuse of these medications among the elderly, clear definition of checklist symptoms is imperative. Furthermore, periodic reduction of dose and possible discontinuation of the drug should be considered since many of the checklist symptoms in this age group are environmentally related and time-limited. There has so far been little evidence to support the use of one neuroleptic over another. Side-effect profiles suggest that low doses of the high potency agents are safer and better tolerated in the elderly. Both therapeutic effects and side effects should be assessed at regular intervals.