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A new approach to dementia care

Dementia patients who punch and kick other nursing home residents and staff often are prescribed powerful medications to control their behaviors, but those drugs come with dangerous and sometimes lethal side effects.

Now, a new study from Boston researchers suggests one way that can significantly reduce use of those potent sedatives: by linking nursing home staff with specialists in dementia care, via video consultations.

In a small group of Massachusetts nursing homes where staff used the twice-monthly video conferences, residents were 17 percent less likely to be prescribed the antipsychotic medications, compared with residents in nursing homes not in the program, according to the study by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Hebrew SeniorLife.