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Medications Used for Alzheimer’s Treatment Questionable

Posted in Elder Issues

As the entire country bore witness with the decline of Ronald Reagan, Alzheimer’s disease is an insidious illness, which often is nearly as debilitating for the loved ones as it is for the patient. An extraordinarily high percentage and ALF residents suffer from Alzheimer’s and/or other dementia related illnesses, including vascular dementia. Sadly, a recent study involving the medications Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel questioned the ethicacy of these anti-psychotic drugs with most Alzheimer’s patients who suffer from delusions and aggression. The study questions whether the risks of these drugs outweigh their benefits. Three-quarters of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease develop aggression, hallucinations or delusions, which can lead them to act out against caregivers or even harm themselves. This type of behavior typically leads families to place such individuals in a nursing home. The study involved 421 patients at 42 medical centers and was conducted for people living outside of the nursing home population. As reported in the October 12, 2006 New England Journal of Medicine, about 4 out of 5 patients stopped taking the pills early on average, generally within 5 to 8 weeks, because the medications were either ineffective or had side effects which rendered their continued use problematic. In the study, five deaths were reported among the patients on the medication versus two in the placebo group. Although symptoms improved in approximately 30% of the patients taking the drugs, 21% on the dummy pills also improved.