I want the doctor to stop Ativan, but he won't listen!.

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 20, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

My grandmother is 95 years old and has dementia. She has a doctor who has her on Risperdal twice a day. If she has a 'mean' fit, they give her Ativan. I have asked to the Ativan stopped because I feel she is being overdosed by both drugs.

I looked up the drugs and the FDA says to not use the drugs for dementia. When my grandmother is on Risperdal, she does okay. She can still eat, drink, and go to the bathroom by herself, as well as walk. She is also very vocal with knowing her family and friends. If there is a problem at night, they give her a shot of Ativan, and then she is not able to function for three days.

I have looked up both drugs. Ativan is not an option that I or my family want to take, but I need more help to show this to the doctor. No one will listen to me. I have her Power of Attorney. She is the love of my life - can you help me?

Her granddaughter, Katy

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

I am not sure what do you mean by "mean fit". You indicate that it happens at night. Is it just that she is trying to get out of the bed? You need to get more information from the staff about her behavior. If it is just problem with sleep there are other medications that are better than "shot of Ativan". It also may help if she is occupied by meaningful activities for most of the day and is not napping too much. If she wishes to ambulate during the night the nursing home staff should be able to allow her to do that.