Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease who are prescribed antipsychotics spend more days hospitalized than those not taking antipsychotics, according to recent findings.

Study subjects who took antipsychotics accumulated 53% more hospital days than patients not prescribed antipsychotics. They averaged 52 days in the hospital compared with 35 days for those who were not prescribed the drugs. Patients in the antipsychotic treatment group were hospitalized under diagnosis codes for conditions including dementia, mental and behavioral disorders, and circulatory, respiratory, or genitourinary diseases.

The results may point to difficulties in treating the most severe behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and the health problems that trigger them, wrote Marjaana Koponen, Ph.D., and colleagues, from Kuopio Research Center of Geriatric Care at the University of Eastern Finland.

“After initiating antipsychotics, careful and regular monitoring is needed to assess response and decrease the risk of adverse effects and events,” Koponen concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.