A new study by researchers from the University of Sydney, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, has found that when a patient is diagnosed with dementia, his use of medication will usually increase immediately, and the risk that he will be prescribed “potentially inappropriate” drugs increases by around 17 percent.
The study incorporated 2,500 participants and was done in collaboration with the Universities of Yale and Kentucky.
“Our study found that following a diagnosis of dementia in older people, medication use increased by 11 percent in a year and the use of potentially inappropriate medications increased by 17 per cent,” lead author, Dr. Danijela Gnjidic, of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, told Science Daily.
The research team noted that medications which are meant to be used short-term, such as sleeping tablets, pain medications, antidepressants and acid reflux medications, are often prescribed to dementia patients on a long-term basis.
Gnjidic noted that there are several reasons why these patients seem to be slipping through the system, including a lack of condition-specific guidelines, a lack of time afforded to dementia patients by their healthcare providers, the difficulty such patients have understanding and remembering dosage instructions, and a lack of goal-setting for individual patient care.
“These findings are of major concern and highlight the importance of weighing up the harms and benefits of taking potentially unnecessary medications as they may lead to increased risk of side effects such as sedation or drowsiness, and adverse drug events such as falls, fractures and hospitalization,” said Gnjidic. “Further efforts are clearly needed to support better recognition of potentially inappropriate medications to minimise possible harms and warrants interventions to minimise such prescribing.”
This study becomes even more alarming when read in conjunction with a report based on findings by researchers at Harvard University, that as we age our kidneys do not metabolize and eliminate drugs as efficiently as they once did. This causes these drugs to build up in the body, causing symptoms of cognitive decline which mimic those of dementia. The guide listed some of the drugs which could cause these dementia-like symptoms, including: antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, narcotics, antihistamines, sedatives, corticosteroids, cardiovascular drugs and anti-convulsants.
Many elderly people are taking one or more of these medications on a chronic, long-term basis, which means that a large number of those who are diagnosed with dementia may not be ill at all, but simply be suffering from a build-up of toxic drugs in their systems.
The University of Sydney study tells us that these same newly diagnosed dementia “patients” are then likely to be prescribed even more toxic medications – also on a long-term basis – which will only serve to exacerbate the problem further.
With these facts in mind, it makes more sense to try to prevent the use of chronic medications as much as possible to prevent dementia-like symptoms. Scientists have also discovered that brain training games are an excellent way to ward off dementia.
Researchers at the University of Sydney looked at two decades of brain training studies and discovered that these games were able to boost overall memory, cognitive abilities, attention and learning in adults who are suffering from "mild cognitive impairment." …
Those with mild cognitive impairment have a 10 percent chance of developing dementia within a year, and the risk is even higher if they also happen to suffer from depression.
To keep up with the latest research on dementia and cognitive health as we age, visit Alzheimers.news.