Is it absolutely necessary for a person with dementia to take medicine for it? -

Is it absolutely necessary for a person with dementia to take medicine for it?

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Sunnygirl1 I do know that each dementia drug is developed and approved for one specific kind of dementia. They are often used off-label for other kinds of dementia with hope and crossed fingers. Aricept, for example, is approved for treating ALZ, but many doctors prescribe it for mild cognitive impairment and other kinds of dementia.

Aricept, it turns out, is more effective in Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson's Disease with Dementia than it is in ALZ. Who knew? There are so few medications developed for any kind dementia that there is a strong desire to try anything that MIGHT help. Haldol can be a calming drug in some kind of dementia, but it is extremely dangerous for LBD.

Each kind of dementia has its own kind of brain damage. It is not at all surprising that one drug can't treat all of them.
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I'd also explore if the meds are beneficial for patients who have dementia from diseases other than Alzheimers. I've read that meds have not been proven to help those who have Vascular Dementia. Anyone know the latest findings on this?
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We tried aricept with my Mom when she was first showing signs of memory issues. She wasn't able to tolerate it and we stopped it. We figured that at 96 why make her sick taking meds. My MIL has been on this med for almost 10 years. As you likely know, there are no proven studies on its effectiveness. Still, MIL hasn't really gotten that bad in a 10 year period! To me, the question would be the age of the patient, ability to tolerate a med, and other health issues.
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I agree with Jeanne. Western medicine is very, very reliant on medicine as the first line of defense and treamtne, often well past the safe levels.

I think it would depend on the individual's unique circumstances and whether or not the medicine enhanced his/her life, and/or controlled undesirable behaviors.

When I first asked a doctor about Aricept for my mother, he said he wouldn't prescribe it b/c of the side effects. At that time I was a bit irritated, but in hindsight, I'm glad he didn't, after learning that it wouldn't have reversed the condition. Mom certainly didn't need it for mood stabilization or any other behavioral aspect.
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No medication cures the condition. Some relieve or lessen some symptoms for some people for some period of time. Many of us feel it is worth trying these if a doctor wants to prescribe them, but if they turn out not to be helpful we stop.

There are medications not specifically for dementia that help calm the patient or make them more comfortable. These include antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. These should only be prescribed by a doctor very familiar with dementia.

My husband took several medications for his Lewy Body Dementia and for some of the symptoms. They greatly improved his quality of life.

My mother also had dementia. She did take something to help her sleep (a sedating antidepressant in a low dose) but nothing else related to the dementia.

"Absolutely necessary"? No. Possibly helpful in some circumstances.
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