KNOW YOUR DEMENTIA MEDS
Dementia remains a difficult, and poorly understood, area of medicine. We present our experience here in the hope that this will begin a discussion of drugs that may help dementia patients. This is simply our professional perspective, developed after a review of the medical literature and years of practicing geriatrics.
We work to minimize all medications. We also try to identify medications that may be causing problematic symptoms. We believe that activities and compassionate communication should always be used to alleviate the worries and confusion of our patients who suffer from dementia.
Yet sometimes, medication may be the best choice: A few drugs may help delay or decrease the progression of dementia. Others may give relief to some of the behavioral symptoms of dementia that can make life intolerable. Caregivers may have tried myriad interventions—stress relief, activities, compassionate workarounds—but the dementia patient may still believe he is being poisoned. They may refuse to wash, or fight back when being helped to bathe. They may become very angry over small incidents during the day. Life can be better than this. In these cases, medications may be part of the solution.
“Goals of care” should underlie the process of deciding whether to use drugs, and which ones to use: Should the focus be upon avoiding all the medical consequences of aging? Should we try to improve the days remaining to each dementia patient?
Nothing written here should be interpreted as a prescription for any particular patient. No use of these medications is without some risk. Therefore, a physician with an ongoing relationship with the patient should determine what course of treatment makes sense. We can not be responsible for any outcome of any use of these medications. The treating physician is responsible for deciding which medications are indicated for their particular patient. We are interested in your comments. Please get in touch via the email link in the Contact Us section of this website. Thank you for your interest.
There is more information on medications on our Helpful Links page.
However, it is not a complete list of side effects, or interactions. This is intended to be used independently with the directions of a physician who knows the person well.
Elder Consult cannot be responsible for any outcomes of these medications that have not been evaluated by myself or one of my clinicians.
We present this summary to give practitioners and the public some information about medications that have been important in the care of our patients. In this challenging area of medical care, we hope that it is of use.