Ten nursing home patients ages 71 to 94 years with dementia and
behavioral agitation were treated prospectively with open-label valproate
at doses of 375 to 750 mg/day over periods of time ranging from 4 to 34
weeks. Change in behavioral agitation was rated by nursing staff members.
Eight (80%) of the 10 patients showed a 50% or greater reduction in the
frequency of episodes of behavioral agitation. Response was maintained in
all patients. Side effects were minimal. The authors conclude that
valproate may be an effective, well tolerated, and safe treatment for
behavioral agitation in elderly patients with dementia.