It certainly does seem to be true, that the older we are the more medications we take. Yes, medications are sometimes necessary to treat our diseases. However, more is not necessarily better. And we should be careful about telling each and every doctor that we see about all the medications we take.
This is especially true for seniors with dementia,who due to their disease, are often not able to give an accurate medication list. They are shuttled from doctor to doctor,and often times end up with multiple drugs being prescribed for the same condition or drugs that counteract other drugs.
A recent study in Canada confirmed what has already been suspected: Seniors are being prescribed drugs to treat dementia at the same time that they are taking medications which may make the symptoms of dementia worse.
Medications that help dementia do so by increasing the level of acetylcholine a long hard to spell word which refers to a substance that helps damaged nerves communicate better.
These medications are expensive and have precious little data which show that they make a big difference in dementia. Nevertheless, through clever marketing they are widely prescribed.
At the same time, providers may prescribe anticholinergics which are used to combat nausea, dizziness and help with sleep. Problem is that this class of drug does exactly the opposite-namely lowers the level of acetylcholine. Guess what? Those same dementia sufferers often have nausea, dizziness and insomnia.
So what results is on the one hand you have expensive, minimally effective medications prescribed for dementia and on the other hand, you have drugs which do exactly the opposite. These not only cancel out each other’s effectiveness, they also can cause significant side effects including death.
What is most important to realize is that the first step should be to let your doctor know all the medications you or you loved one is taking. Then have a serious discussion about which are truly necessary and which can be safely stopped.