Is Medication Beneficial for Dementia Patients?

If you or your loved one is currently receiving Alzheimer’s or dementia care, you’re aware of the controversy around dementia medication. Prescriptions for Alzheimer’s drugs like Donepezil (known by its commercial name, Aricept), Memantine (known as Namenda) and Rivastigmine (commercially, Exelon), are commonly prescribed by doctors and administered by home care agencies and other dementia and Alzheimer’s care givers in the Phoenix, AZ, area, and everywhere in the country, to relieve symptoms of early dementia.

The drugs, with the collective name ‘statin drugs’, or ‘cholinesterase inhibitors’ work by lowering lipids in the body. They were initially thought to extend the length of time that a patient with early onset could care for him or herself, but have been routinely prescribed for patients in all stages of the disease.

New studies show that during late stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s, these drugs may not be effective. In fact, they may cause needless discomfort—muscle soreness, dizziness and fatigue. They can cause serious side effects like fainting and arrhythmia without prolonging life. Ironically, one of the side effects of statin drugs is memory loss and confusion in older patients.

Though the study examined nursing homes, not home care agencies who provide in home Alzheimer’s or dementia care in Phoenix, AZ, the findings are worth considering and raise important questions. How should we approach Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Phoenix, AZ? What should we ask home care agencies to prioritize as our loved one becomes less and less able to care for him or herself? Is it enough to make them as comfortable as possible? How do we know when they have reached the point where they do not want life supporting measures taken nearing the end of life? What should the medical professionals prioritize for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers?

While there are no easy answers, the study does raise an important issue—it’s important to clearly communicate with the physician of a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. We need to be clear about the priorities that should guide the patient’s care. Then, these priorities can be translated into a care plan for home care agencies, or whatever Alzheimer’s or dementia care your Phoenix loved one receives. It may be most important that your loved one’s limited lifespan is spent in as much comfort as possible.

The staff of Nightingale Homecare is qualified to provide dementia care using the unique approach taught by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson through her “Alzheimer’s Whisperer ®” program.  Through our “Connections” program, Alzheimer’s Whisperers enter the client’s world and manage the challenging behaviors associated with dementia in a way that is gentle, creative and highly effective.  These skills can then be taught to families, thus enabling the person with dementia to continue to be cared for safely at home.  Contact us to find out more about this Nightingale specialty program: (602) 504-1555