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My dad was diagnosed with dementia, probably Alzheimer's. He doesn't wander, and is still capable of going to the bank, walking to a restaurant to eat dinner. However, he at times doesn't remember who I am! He lives alone, but has been at the same place for 30 years, with supportive neighbors.

His current primary doctor doesn't want to treat the dementia. For me, I think that the drugs might be worth a shot. Does anyone have experience with this?

Thanks!!

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Thank you everyone for your assistance! I'm on my own with this stuff, and wanting to do the right thing. I wish all of you the very best in 2015!
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Thanks JeaneGibbs, that's good to know. I'm going to explore this.
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Sunnygirl1, whether some drugs help patients keep their level of functioning is controversial. That is what Aricept was developed for. Does it work? A study in England determined that there was no difference in the number of months before an ALZ patient needed a care center, among those on Aricept and those not taking a drug. BUT what I would be more interested in knowing was whether the group using drugs was HAPPIER or having a better quality of life while they were still at home. I haven't seen a study on that.

Aricept was specifically tested and approved for use with people who have Alzheimer's Dementia. It is demonstrably MORE effective among patients who have Lewy Body or Parkinson's Dementia.

Most doctors will prescribe Aricept if dementia is even suspected. My mother tried it. It didn't help her and it had side effects. We stopped. In my opinion it is worth trying but if it doesn't produce some day-to-day improvement I would not continue it indefinitely in hopes that it will slow the progression. I don't see a lot of evidence that it really does that.

One size does not fit all.

For my husband (LBD) Aricept definitely improved his day-to-day functioning and it was very worthwhile for him to continue taking it.

Research is going on all over the world in how the brain functions, how it malfunctions, and what might be done to prevent and treat dementia. This research is absolutely critical.

(The Michael J Fox Foundation is one organization that funds this kind of research. That is where any year-end contributions I can make are going.)


For someone in good health with potentially many years to live, I personally think it worthwhile to seek out the most up-to-date, knowledgeable medical dementia experts you can find. In my opinion, this is less critical for someone much older and/or someone with a shorter life expectancy from other illnesses.
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You don't say his age but theres lots of drugs for early dementia. Ask doctor about Aricept or Excelon patch.
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I thought there were some medications that allow dementia patients to keep their level of function as long as possible. Is this not true?
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My husband was mid seventies when he showed symptoms. I did everything possible to get expert medical care for him. My mother was in her early 90s and in poor health. We have not bothered about getting a specific dementia diagnosis but address the symptoms as they arise.

With your father in early 80s and in good health, I would tend to want to take him to a dementia specialty clinic, at least once, even if it were some distance away. How aggressively to try to treat dementia is a case-by-case decision. It depends on age, health, how accessible a good treatment center is, insurance coverage, and personal philosophy.

Whatever you decided, I wish you and your father as much quality in his life as possible.
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Thanks! He's 81, and has a little trouble walking. He has had health issues in the past, but seems to have recovered fully. For example, he at one time had an aortic aneurisym. It disappeared!
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It is not typical for dementia patients to be able to live alone past the very early stage. Supportive neighbors help. But you should probably start making alternative plans. Maybe getting some in-home help will buy a little time.

I think the ideal primary care doctor for someone with dementia is a geriatrician. There should also be a specialist who treats dementia involved -- a behavioral neurologist or a geriatric psychiatrist.

Some symptoms in some patients respond well to drug treatment. It is a crap shoot. Someday we'll have much better knowledge about what is likely to help in which circumstances, but for now it is a slow learn by trial process. That is why I think it is very important to have an experienced person in charge of treating dementia.

You would need to know in detail exactly what Dad's symptoms are, in order for an experienced specialist to put together a treatment plan. Such a specialist may or may not decide to try drugs, or to wait until serious and treatable symptoms arise.

My husband was never thought to have ALZ ... he was assumed to LBD from the very beginning. He behavioral neurologist put him on Aricept immediately. That went well. At the next visit he asked which symptom bothered us the most. If there was one thing we could fix, what would we choose? I chose the sleep disturbances. Tackling symptoms one by one, with plenty of time between them to monitor the results of the new drug, it took nearly a year to have a complete drug plan in place. It got tweaked over the years but remained essentially stable.

How old is Dad? Does he have other health issues?
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Drugs are not used unless he starts to have anxiety or depression.
Whatever you do, do not allow him to drive a car. Too risky.
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