Alzheimer’s Medications: Benefits Versus Risks (Family)

By Pamela D Wilson CSA, CG, MS, BS/BA

Research (Ellis 2005) exists regarding the benefits of using a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The American Geriatrics Society cautions use of these medications stating that periodic assessments of the benefits and adverse effects should be completed on a regular basis. Evidence for long term use is lacking. Cholinesterase inhibitors are not recommended for individuals in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

How does one decide whether these medications offer benefit if research is contradictory? If Alzheimer’s truly is an irreversible condition, what benefit do the medications offer? What are the risks of taking these medications for individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate degrees of memory loss? Should families be more discerning before accepting recommendations to utilize these medications for loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?

The decision to use medications is a personal choice that should be based on family values, the health condition of the individual diagnosed, available finances and the wishes of the care recipient — if sufficient cognition exists for this information to be expressed.

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©2014 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved. 

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