Medication and Dementia – What You Need To Know

by | Aug 1, 2020 | Dementia, Dementia Medication

Medication and dementia often go hand in hand. If you have someone in your life with dementia, you know how challenging it is. But, it’s challenging for them too. As their condition matures, you may notice other changes in them.

It’s important to know that any medications they are on can interfere with medication for dementia. There can also be side effects of medications. With pain management, it can be a bit difficult.

Medication And Dementia- Finding the right one or combination for someone you love.

Finding the right medication for someone with Dementia can be difficult. While there are no medications to stop Dementia, there are drugs to treat the symptoms.

Common symptoms are anxiety, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating, or memory loss. These meds help people return to a somewhat normal life. The benefit will be temporary, however.

There are a few dementia medications available.

The two most commonly used are cholinesterase inhibitors and Memantine. Memantine is a medication that helps balance glutamate. This messenger chemical is involved in our memory and learning.

Others included Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine that are often used in all stages of Dementia. These are also used with Memantine

Medications may not work for everyone, as people respond very differently to certain types of drugs. These medications can lead to an improvement in memory, and improve behavior.

They may not make much of a difference. But these symptoms are often improved and slowed down. However, be aware the medications may not work, have side effects, or may even make things worse.

If there are side effects, they usually go away after a few days. And continuing side effects may mean the dose needs to be adjusted. It’s always best to be aware of certain side effects. These can affect appetite, cause diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, or problems sleeping.

Do Medications Cause Dementia?

Medication and dementia

Anxiety, depression, and insomnia medications can mimic dementia.

These medications block the effect of acetylcholine. This is an important brain chemical and neurotransmitter that becomes diminished as we age. These medications may cause Dementia-like symptoms.

So, if someone seems to be presenting with worsening symptoms, have their dosage checked. The meds may be interfering and making it seem like the Dementia is worse, when it may be the medication.

Some Medications Can Make Dementia Worse

Most drugs that are developed to help with dementia help increase the levels of “choline’. This is a chemical that brain cells need to communicate with each other.

However, certain common medications “anti-cholinergic”. This means they decrease levels of choline, and can make dementia symptoms worse.

Increased confusion and agitation are common problems. Be aware of these medications.

1.Benadryl – found in cough medicine, and over-the-counter sleeping pills or allergy relief.

2. Steroids- used to treat emphysema and other lung diseases may also cause confusion, agitation, and insomnia.

3. Many medications for bladder and urination can also cause the same side effects. It’s best to cut out caffeine and make sure they visit the washroom regularly.

Pain Medication and Dementia

Dementia and Medication for pain

Senior woman’s arthritic hands struggling to button her sweater.

If your loved one is complaining that they have pain, using medications should be a last resort. Elderly people may be uncomfortable from sitting for long periods and forgetting to move.

Take them for walks, increase their low impact activities, encourage stretching and movement. Activities that help a senior move and think will be helpful.

Massage, swimming, treadmills, and stationary bikes can also help with stiffness and pain. Pain mediation can be addictive and may have adverse side effects that will make their symptoms worse.

Pain management is best without medication that will make them even more lethargic. Avoid opioids. And when possible, use small doses of other medications.

For inflammatories, avoid the ones with steroids. Anti-depressants have side effects. Ask your doctor about these medications. They can make the person more withdrawn and make their symptoms seem worse.

Chronic Pain may never go away. So it is important to get a good diagnosis. If they need medication, make sure it doesn’t make them groggy and worse.

Medication and Dementia 

It is common to want your loved one to have a normal life. Pay attention to medications that could cause side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Some of the medications listed above can help with Dementia symptoms, but not cure it. It may last a few months, or it may not work at all. It’s important to not have any false hope if they all of a sudden seem ‘cured’.

Moving someone to a memory home may be the smart option. Additionally, they have all their needs met and will be as comfortable as possible. You all will.

The staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that!  Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!








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