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Hi, everyone. My 79-year-old mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. In the last year or so, the doctor has tried nearly every Alzheimer's medication on the market with her--not to mention supplements and a few holistic items. Everything, and I do mean everything, has caused her to have severe symptoms of anxiety. Anyone have any idea why this may be. To this point, she has been on Aricept, Namenda, Exelon Patch, Cerefolen, and has taken coconut oil capsules and Lion's Mane. She had to be taken off every one of these treatments within the first two to three weeks due to acute anxiety attacks and worsening depression (she is also on an anti-depressant called Celexa--has been for many years now). Any thoughts on this situation will be greatly appreciated. We would really like to find SOMETHING that might help her regain some of her mental acuity. Thanks so much!

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Sandfox, I agree 100% with your last 2 paragraphs. Just remember that the people who decide on the warnings for medications are the same ones who think we need to be warned about using a hairdryer in the shower or tub. They list every single thing that happened to anyone during a trial.

I noticed a small but definite improvement when my husband started Aricept, so I'm glad we tried it. It does cause a little constipation that is easy to treat with Metamucil.
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sandfox, just as a piece of information, my husband did very well on those bottles of toxins. (I know many don't.) By the time he was on hospice it was not clear if any of them were still working. We dropped them all ... only to add them back in when we saw how he was without them.

In the letter reporting his autopsy results, his doctor mentioned that my husband was one of the lucky ones who responded well to drug treatment. Why? The researchers have no idea. They would love to be able to predict which patients would respond well. Maybe someday this will be possible. For now, it is worth trying, in my opinion, because if they do work it can greatly improve quality of life.

I agree with you, though, that if the drugs don't work there is no point in using them! I just think it is worth trying them to find that out. One drug at a time. Start with low dose. Observe very carefully.
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I probably shouldn't say this, but I don't trust any of these dementia drugs. They all have horrific side effects, and I doubt that they are really helping. I personally will not put my mom on these bottles of toxins. Just my personal view.
You said, "like to find SOMETHING that might help her regain some of her mental acuity. Thanks so much!" Don't expect her to regain what she had before.
If she does better off the drugs, leave her off the drugs. That's your decision, of course.
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jrectenwald, I certainly hope that a second opinion from a different specialist will result in some answers for you and some improvements for Mom. The right doctor can make a HUGE difference in quality of life, in my experience.
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It is puzzling, Jeanne, and thank you so much for taking the time to answer my post. Yes, she was diagnosed as having "Alzheimer's", but my brother and I often wonder because while she has some of the common symptoms, she seems capable in other areas. For example, she can't remember something we said to her just minutes earlier, but she can still add and subtract with the best of them. She can still compose sentences and still spells words properly. However, she can't remember that she once had two dogs, both named "Dutchie". Odd, but maybe that's how the disease works. We're new to this.

Also, as you said, it is odd that simple things like coconut oil capsules cause her to start to have the anxiety and forgetfulness when they are not even a medication, per se. Just for information's sake, her anxiety attacks are pretty bad and they lead her to have even more severe depression. Even more perplexing, however, is that her forgetfulness when placed on a new supplement or medication becomes awful--almost to the point of her being non-functional. When we remove the meds per the doctor's orders, she returns to her pre-medication state within a week or two. Very strange. This is why we keep wondering if there might be something more going on here.

Even though her neurologist has been a Godsend for my father who has Parkinson's, she seems to be at a loss where my mom is concerned. She hasn't given up, but I'm afraid we may be wasting valuable time trying a lot of different meds which do not seem to be working. So, we're going to try taking her to Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh as soon as we can decide which doctor would be best for her. Supposedly, they are very, very good at dealing with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

I really think she needs just ONE doctor who is willing to take a look at all the meds she's taking and determine if she needs each one or if there may be some interaction between them. I know that her PCP is supposed to do that, but a lot of doctors believe in treating EVERY ailment with a pill, and my mom has always believed that the doctor's word is gospel. She refuses to question them in any way. While I am not afraid to ask questions, it is difficult to move forward when every concern you have about a specific medication is met with the same answer.--"that drug cannot be causing that problem". And because my brother and I are not doctors, we do not want to simply start removing her medications haphazardly. Wow, this is frustrating.
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She doesn't have anxiety attacks with drugs she is used to -- I wonder if she should be allowed more time to get used to each new drug? Obviously I don't know how severe her anxiety attacks are, but it might be worth asking the neurologist.

Was the diagnosis specifically "Alzheimer's" or generic "dementia"? Each kind of dementia is different, too. For example, Aricept (developed for Alzheimer's) turned out to be more effective for Lewy Body Dementia (which my husband had) than it was for AD. That it didn't seem to be helping her doesn't surprise me. But while Aricept was clearly helpful for my husband, I know of other LBD patients for whom it was not helpful. Each kind of dementia is different, and each patient with that disease is different.

If coconut oil, all by itself, no other new drug, gave her anxiety attacks, I am very surprised. Does she also get anxiety attacks if she tries a new food? This is puzzling, isn't it?

If she is in the hands of an excellent doctor you trust, all you can do is try, observe, and make adjustments.

Best wishes to you.
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Hi, Jeanne. Yes, she started one medication at a time at the lowest possible dose. But within a week or two of initializing treatment, she began to have severe anxiety attacks. No, she does not have anxiety attacks when she is only on her usual prescription drugs--medications that she's been taking for many years and to which her body has become accustomed. However, anything new added, causes the same type of reaction in her. We thought, as you did, that she needed a change away from the Celexa after so many years, so she was switched to Imipramine (sp?). Within a week or two after the switch, she began to have the severe anxiety attacks. So, she was switched back, and they stopped. While she is not being treated by a geriatric psychiatrist (she adamantly refuses to go!), she is being seen by a renown neurologist in Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital. We just keep wondering if there may be something besides Alzheimer's going on here that we're missing--considering that anything meant to help Alzheimer's patients do just the opposite to her. Oh, by the way, this just occurred to me--during the trial periods on these drugs, her forgetfulness becomes horribly worse as well.

Sigh. I guess we may just be hoping for something that may never be there, a possible (albeit temporary) "cure", something to hang some hope on. But as you say, each individual is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Thanks for your insight.
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Did she start ONE medication at a time, in a low dose, with the intention of increasing the dose over time? Two to three weeks isn't much time to determine how a medication is going to work. Does she have anxiety attacks when she isn't on any drugs? Could the attacks simply be coincidental to being on the drug? If she has been on the same antidepressant for many years, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate that, especially since she now has dementia.

You know that each person is unique externally. That is how you can recognize your mother out of a large crowd of people. No one else looks exactly like Mom. We are equally unique on the inside. No two brains are exactly alike. Even if many dementia patients do well on Namenda that doesn't ensure that your mother will.

Is she being treated by a specialist, such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a behavioral nuerologist?
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