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My mother (87), undiagnosed dementia, diabetes, etc) just returned from weeks hospital stay for a heart attack, resulting in two stents & angioplasty. One of the new meds is Xanax to be taken every six hrs "as needed". When questioned about that I was told the Dr. felt some of the chest pressure she had been experiencing may be from anxiety. I understand treating the cause, but the side effects sound counterproductive to her memory issues, balance, incontinence & on & on. I have given her only one at bedtime to help her relax and once when she seemed anxious during the day, but not sure I want to risk the ill effects that may occur. Anyone have experience with this? Any natural aids that will work just as well?

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Every patient is different so you MUST view your Mom based on her own situation. For example, my Mom was on only 1/4 of 0.25 Xanax x 2 daily for months after her diagnosis. Most of her docs said that is ridiculous, couldn't possibly be helping. But it made all the difference in the world to HER. Psychological? Probably, but who cares? By the time she was close to dying 1.0 x 4 daily wasn't anywhere near enough. She was finally put on a combo of Haldol cream with a couple of other meds that I applied inside her arm at her elbow. Very quick acting. Her anxiety was far worse than her pain. But, many people say that sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs are a huge no-no and many others say every dementia patient should be on them. Personally, for those who know what is happening to them, as my Mom did with FTD, I don't know how they could live without them. For those still able to walk, which my Mom could not, they must be closely monitored on anti-anxiety meds, because they will impact balance issues and cause falls!!
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I read the reports about Xanax and dementia...after my mom starting exhibiting signs of it. However, they did say in the reports that is was long term use of the medicine that accelerated the dementia and my mom was on it for several years. My warning would be this....my mom found it impossible to get off ativan once she was put on....she was 84.....and finally we had to stop trying to reduce her. So think carefully, consider her age and keeping her comfortable. But know the possible problems of long term use and the problems of getting her off it. Keep in mind making these decisions are really really hard....just know you are doing your best to keep her comfortable. And you are so right about the benefits vs the possible longer term cost.
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Well, the doctors had my father on this medication, and I suppose it worked to reduce his anxiety at not knowing what was real and what was fantasy, or knowing when and where he was sometimes. It was hard to watch his rather fast deterioration. Sometimes I wouldn't give him the Xanax in the morning, against the doctors wishes, and he would come alive--we could talk! It was wonderful. However, he would get anxious at little things. So, take care when giving this medication, and only "as needed". My father was so much more alive and responsive when not on this medication. My own doctor told me that Xanax is like giving someone a frontal lobotomy!
In the final stages of dementia, my father mostly just slept the days away. He became less and less aware of reality and less connected to this life. He smiled and expressed his thankfulness for my being there, and became an angel.
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The benefits do not out way the side effects, get your loved one of it immediately. It should be used once in awhile to relax. Daily use of it actually makes it worse, it builds up in the systems, and can actually bring on those issues.
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My Dad has Lewy Body dementia, and the dr. gave a script for Xanax over a year ago. I gave it to him a few times but it seemed to have the opposite effect. At 89 years old, the only prescription he takes it thyroid, and he seems to be super sensitive to any other medicines.
He is in the advanced stages, and thankfully not too agitated most of the time, I give him melatonin every night before bed, and most nights he sleeps fairly well, also, I have found that lavender oil, on a cotton ball in his pillow, and bedroom seems to help when he is agitated.
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JumieJ, it was the hospital doctor whom I never met who prescribed this. Both GP & cardiologist fine with her not taking Xanax. She sleeps like a baby with a generic Tylenol PM product without all the nasty counterproductive side effects. Maybe Xanax will be appropriate down the road. Thanks to everyone who has responde to my post. Great community!
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If you trust this doctor, follow his directions. If you do not, you need to find another doctor. We are not doctors and,imho, we shoud not make medical decisions.
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p.s. - regarding falls, we are very careful to monitor my mom to prevent falls as she has already had a few because of her bad knees (and were totally unrelated to Xanax). We also cut 0.25 mg Xanax in half. She knows that she can only have 1/2 rather than a whole and always has - this is so that we can build to a larger dose later, if need be.
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Once diagnosis has been made, I found no reason not to use it - determining that the benefits outweighed the risks ... which we have to do with every single medication that goes in my mom's mouth. Anxiety is just as bad for her as all of her other illnesses - even worse than some of them. So if Xanax (or its generic) can relieve that anxiety, I vote yes. Seeing her want to jump out of her skin and on the verge of a panic attack is heartbreaking and not worth prolonging her dementia-ridden life for any amount of time. We're talking quality of life vs length of life. While I want her on this earth for as long as I can have her with me, I want her with me happy rather than miserable for as long as possible and full of anxiety does not make anyone a happy camper - the patient or the caregiver(s). Most doctors (at least hers do, anyway) agree on that score! Just my opinion ...
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My mother has advanced dementia. Her psychiatrist is absolutely against giving her Xanax. Right now she takes Lexapro and Buspirone for her anxiety, and they are working well. To sleep, I have to give her Seroquel, but her dementia may be more advanced than your mother's.
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There are some people who will swear by Xanax, but one of the dangers of taking this drug for longer than a couple of weeks is that it begins to lose its effectiveness the longer someone takes it, and then the doctor has to increase the dosage. It is far better to give it as needed rather than on a regular basis. For those who give a dementia patient Xanax on a regular basis I wonder whose comfort level you're treating, yours or the patient's. There are behavioral things you can do to keep dementia patients calm: playing music they enjoy, having them watch old TV shows and movies, going for walks, or anything to keep their minds busy. Try behavior therapy first before continually doping them up with Xanax. Use it sparingly and only when diverting the patient doesn't calm the patient. Please do your research about this dangerous drug.
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If you do decide to with hold the Xanax don't throw it away.........the time is a commin that your gonna need it.....lol
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Bunnyo, there are many dementia symptoms, but the one we are talking about here is anxiety and whether or not Xanax (alprazolam) is helpful.
Early dementia is forgetful and anxious
Moderate dementia can be agitated and angry or withdrawn.
Late dementia can be delirious and hallucinating and wander off.
"De" means off. "Mentia" means brain. The brain is off, but how far off or what parts are off, takes a medical professional to diagnose and treat.
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What are dementia symptoms?
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If you can avoid Ativan, Xanax, etc., I think it's best to avoid them. I believe Ativan was responsible for a large part of my mother's memory loss; she was given it for anxiety for a period of a few weeks and it seriously reduced her capacity to recall anything. Ultimately she was taken off Ativan and put on an antidepressant, which has completely eliminated the anxiety attacks without resorting to Ativan or Xanax. My dad's anxiety is much worse than my mom's and if left unchecked can spiral into a very negative situation for him. So far, we have not been able to find an alternative to Xanax for him. (An antidepressant was tried, but actually made his anxiety worse.) I believe there is a real crisis in understanding the way these medications work in the elderly and people with dementia. My parents' doctors know to only give them low doses, but still, I feel like there is a lot of sort of "experimentation" without a really clear understanding of how these meds affect people at that age. We are going to a new geriatric psychiatrist for my mom soon and I hope he'll be able to get a better handle on what we can do for her. (Her GP put her on Ritalin, which I discovered isn't that unusual these days for the elderly. When she takes it, it helps her a ton, almost brings her back to her old self, and doesn't cause any spikes in anxiety for her.)
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I met with the ALF team yesterday and we reviewed my cousin's care plan. They were not impressed with the Xanax. We have decided to not use it anymore, EXCEPT for days where my cousin has to have an MRI or some other tests done that stress her. We are exploring antidepressants that might offer her some piece of mind and pain relief.

You have to do what works, but I would caution you about falls on Xanax. It tends to effect those with dementia in a different way than those who don't have it.
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Boni & Pam...don't think I haven't considered that! Lol
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i dont really see weed as a pain med . never did . it did help me stay sane once on hepc chemo but in hindsight it may have added to the paranoid delusions that wiped me out of treatment . recreationally tho there are billions to be made from it . i tried to tell congress for 30 years that the billions leaving this country would destroy our economy but they were republicans loving the money being made from incarceration and fines . its sad , im glad to see it change .. it aint my battle anymore , let the youth stand up for their gutless selves . i lick phsycadelic toads now ..
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I have a friend that "bakes" for cancer patients. She has helped a lot of people at risk to herself. Get with it, America! Think of all the tax revenue! It's a natural gift from God to help people though their pain....jmo.
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Same with medical marijuana. Marinol is $10 a pill at its lowest dose. It's cheaper and more effective to buy the shrub itself. In fact, in Ontario you can grow your own, a law that makes sense.
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thats what american scientists are deriving from it pam . course american pharm likes to sell candy too . a drug counselor a couple years ago told us that the 1 k each pills like the new hepc meds are not where pharm makes its profit . its the 60 cent each benzos and pain pills handed out by the tens of millions .. of course hes a lying sack of fornication too . everybody has an angle , usually profit ..
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Boni is right, the caregiver needs it, just as much as the patient. The MD gave me a PRN for .5 Ativan and when I could not sleep, it helped. Somebody has to be in control when the patient is not.
As for Xanax causing dementia? I doubt it. Anxiety is part of early dementia, so the disease is already there before they start the meds.
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boni is right . its a tongue in cheek thing with doc but the zans are for the caregiver ..
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There are definite benefits when the care giver uses Xanax or Valium. Not being facetious, but as a long term sufferer of anxiety and chemical depression, I could never be able to do this job without being properly medicated myself.
I agree with the above answers. Try it. If it hurts or helps.....continue or discontinue. It really is a case by case thing. Good luck.
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You made a good observation. I should have clarified in my previous post that we began using Alprazolam only after several years into the Alzheimers journey. As someone else indicated, without it = anxiety, restlessness, emotional, so using it seems to be the merciful thing to do. Quite honestly, even if it would, by chance, accelerate the disease [and I don't know that it does], it would be worth it for the peace it gives him.
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My dad without Xanax - agitated, nervous, pacing, annoyed, sometimes crying. My dad with Xanax - fairly manageable.
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Each person reacts differently to medications. At 87 your mom deserves comfort over fear of future dementia. If she gets unsteady on her feet and such, that is also a current issue. She is going to take a while to heal from her surgery, and keeping her calm during this is important. It also takes time for the meds from surgery to get out of her system so not all of what you see is the Xanax.
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Thanks for all your input. Will be seeing her GP and cardiologistnest week and will run this by both. Question: it seems the studies relating xanax use to dementia/alzheimer's focuses on people without the disease & the % who develop it after prolonged use. Any studies about how it's use may advance the disease more rapidly than without? I would think it would but see where the benefits for reducing anxiety may outweigh not using it.
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Does she get enough omega-3 fatty acids? Dr. Andrew Weil says this about omega-3 and the brain:

"Omega-3 fats can also help lift depression as well as treating other mood disorders. Aside from fish oil capsules, the best dietary sources of omega-3s are salmon, sardines, and other cold water fish, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds."
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If you find her worse with it, it might be better not to use it. And keep her away from caffeine, even caffeine in soda.
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