Watch Out for Drugs that Lead to Dementia and Alzheimer’s in Seniors


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By Jeremy Grant

Owner of Home Instead Senior Care Hamilton

Home Instead Caregivers remind seniors of their medication schedule Has mom started to repeat herself? If you remind her of an upcoming event, does she ask you about it again five minutes later? Or has dad suddenly forgotten appropriate words? They are right on the tip of his tongue, but when he tries to say “car”, he may say “elephant” instead. Look out! These symptoms might be the early signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But another grave possibility could be side effects from their medication.

On average, seniors take six prescription medications daily for a variety of ailments like high blood pressure, pain, anxiety or allergies. At the time of purchasing these medications, side effects are not always properly understood. You are more concerned about curing the ailment. But if your mom or dad have had their prescription drugs changed recently and they exhibit signs of cognitive impairment soon after taking them, call their doctor at once. A drug interaction can hinder your loved one’s mental and physical health. Symptoms could include Dementia.

At Home Instead Senior Care, we take extra care to assist elders in taking their medications on time and can monitor their day to day interactions for any unusual side effects.

4 Groups of Drugs that can Impair Cognition in the Elderly

It is a common habit to take medications to treat every small and big ailment; from simple aches and pains to acute infections to cancer. But many prescription drugs can have serious side-effects. Some interfere with a vital brain chemical called acetylcholine, the symptoms of which can be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Talk with the doctor if your parent is taking prescriptions that contain any of the following:

  • Benzodiazepines for Anxiety: If mom’s anxiety pills contain benzodiazepines, she may get more than she bargained for. Her nervousness may be calmed down, but it is possible she might experience sedation and slowing of mental abilities. The same can happen with dad’s insomnia prescription.
  • Corticosteroids for Inflammation: This class of drug is used for relief from inflammation and the medications are used to treat severe allergies, skin problems, asthma, or arthritis. They can also escalate mood swings and mimic mental disorders.
  • Opioids for Pain Control: The most prominent culprit from this group is opioids. When used correctly, they work wonders to alleviate pain. If abused, short-term memory problems may ensue.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs: Battling cancer is hard enough, but dad may have to battle “chemo brain” with it. Some of the results are lack of attention and setback in memory.

The good news is that not everyone has to deal with the same side effects, if at all. Be sure to provide your family doctor with all the medications your loved one has been prescribed. Read the list of side effects and pay attention to how they react. Keep a daily record of dosage times, and any changes in mood or cognitive functions. If you are unable to provide consistent care, our staff can help. Our caregivers are trained to assist your senior family members with occasional respite care or regular senior care services so that they can continue to live independently.

Expert Elder Care Assistance

Remember that not every slip of the memory results in Dementia. It could well be a medicine that needs to be replaced. Encourage your parent to consult with their doctor and seek assistance from a home care professional who understands the importance of taking medicines on time and monitoring side effects. At Home Instead Senior Care Hamilton, we provide well-trained caregivers who can offer elder care that is tailored to meet various needs.

Call us at (905) 521-5500 to schedule a no-obligation in-home consultation. Learn more about the compassionate, quality home care we deliver each day to families in the Hamilton area.


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