Are there benefits of Xanax use by person with dementia?

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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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