Is It a Potential Dementia Diagnosis or Medication Side Effects?

dementia diagnosisDisorientation. Confusion. Memory loss. While these are definitely hallmark warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, they can also come about from taking specific medications. Before automatically assuming an inevitable dementia diagnosis, review the following list of prescription medications that may cause similar effects.

Pain Medications

Opioids specifically are reported to affect short-term memory. The good news is that the issue is usually resolved once pain remedies are no longer being taken.

Acetylcholine Blockers

Prescribed for insomnia, IBS, urinary incontinence, depression, heart disease, vertigo, and Parkinson’s, along with other conditions, treatments with anticholinergic effects that block acetylcholine’s effects in the brain may cause memory disturbance, confusion, agitation, and delirium, and other significant health conditions. An example is tolteridine.

Benzodiazepines

These medications help treat both insomnia and anxiety, with sedative qualities that can also cause cognitive problems. Long-term usage of benzodiazepines may also be a risk factor for developing dementia. Examples include lorazepam (Ativan) and temazepam (Restoril).

Corticosteroids

Mood and cognitive changes, psychotic symptoms, and delirium are just some of the complications connected with corticosteroid use. Prednisone is one common example.

Chemotherapy Medications

Known as “chemo brain,” chemotherapy drugs impact some individuals in the areas of memory, attention and focus, and executive functioning. These changes may persist, even after finishing chemo treatment.

Statins

Statins, prescribed to lower cholesterol, have a suspected link to memory and mental slowing and decline. While there are inconsistent results from a variety of studies, it is important to know about the potential for cognitive complications.

It’s also important to note that many medications affect older adults differently than those who are younger. This is due in part to the decreased efficiency in an older person’s kidneys and liver, in addition to interactions with other medications being taken and a reduced cognitive reserve in the brain. Complications can also be further exacerbated by alcohol use.

Make sure to speak with the physician prior to starting, stopping, or changing any medication, and about whether any cognitive complications you’re witnessing in an older adult might be the result of a medication.

Responsive Home Care, the top provider of senior home care in Pembroke Pines and nearby areas, is also readily available to assist older adults in many ways – medication reminders to ensure meds are taken just as prescribed, picking up prescriptions, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and keeping an eye out for any changes in condition and reporting them immediately, just to name a few. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for help and support any time.

Medications That Increase Fall Risk for Seniors: Startling New Stats

woman speaking with a female medical professional via video chat

Medications that increase fall risk for seniors should be closely monitored by a physician in order to keep older adults safe from side effects that put them at risk.

We’ve long known that there are certain medications that increase the fall risk for seniors. Twenty years ago, just a little over half of older adults were impacted by that risk; yet today, that number has risen dramatically – to a full 94% of seniors who are now in danger of falling as a result of medication side effects. Not only that, but deaths from such falls are occurring at more than double the previous rate.

Researchers who discovered this increasing concern also found that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled over 7.8 billion times. This includes a spike from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to more than 52 million in 2017.

The study doesn’t specifically pinpoint these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but indicates the need for further exploration into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”

It’s crucial for seniors and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the conditions that require these medications and preventing further complications from a fall.

Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the study, explains, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”

Prescriptions that are specifically linked to fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, pain, and psychosis, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are experiencing the highest spike in fall-related deaths.

One step that seniors can take is to have the home assessed for fall risk and to implement any recommended safety measures. Responsive Home Care is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at your convenience. We can also help reduce fall risk through:

  • Ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Assisting with safe walking and transfers
  • Encouraging seniors to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs to strengthen balance, flexibility, and strength
  • And more

Email or give our trusted care team a call at (954) 486-6440 to learn more about our senior care in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and the surrounding communities, and to schedule your assessment today!

Your Guide to Safe Disposal of Medications

Senior woman holding pills and reading the information on the label

Learn proper medication management with the help of Responsive Home Care.

With so many aging parents taking several prescriptions, and with physicians changing and adding medications and dosages to find out the perfect solutions, it is critical to know what to do with meds which are no longer needed or that have expired. There are multiple options for managing medications that need to be disposed:

  • Check labels. The medication’s label or informational literature might provide direction on exactly how to safely dispose of the drug. You could also consult the pharmacist for guidelines.
  • Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This is the preferred way to responsibly get rid of unwanted medications, and it is organized each year in locations throughout the country by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Find the venue closest to you as well as the next date for the local event.
  • Use caution prior to flushing. Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet is generally not recommended, but there are particular exceptions, laid out in the FDA’s Flush List. Medications currently considered acceptable to flush if another option of disposal isn’t available include:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Benzhydrocodone
    • Buprenorphine
    • Diazepam
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Meperidine
    • Methadone
    • Methylphenidate
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Sodium Oxybate
    • Tapentadol
  • Camouflage when discarding. Many medications can be discarded with regular trash, if safeguards are taken to restrict animals from inadvertently ingesting them or from anyone seeking drugs to locate and ingest them. The FDA advises mixing the meds with an undesirable substance – such as coffee grounds or kitty litter – and then placing in a secured plastic bag before adding to your household garbage bag.
  • Remove identifying information. Make certain to scratch out and/or shred any personal information to safeguard the older adult’s identification and to prevent anybody who is unauthorized from finding the medicine container and acquiring a refill of the medication.

For more help with medications, including medication reminders to make sure senior loved ones take prescription medications exactly as advised by the health care provider, connect with the aging care professionals at Responsive Home Care. We are also available to assist with a wide selection of aging care needs at home that improve overall wellbeing for cherished older adults, such as:

  • Help with personal care and hygiene needs
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housework
  • Companionship to engage in conversations and enjoyable activities
  • And a lot more.

Contact us at 954-486-6440 to let us know more about the challenges a senior is facing, and to ask about a free of charge in-home assessment to allow us to share with you how we can help with senior care in Hollywood, FL and the surrounding areas.

Fort Lauderdale In-Home Care Tips: Avoid These Common Senior Medication Dangers

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

A current study of over 2,000 seniors finds that a remarkable 87% take one or more prescription drugs, and a full 36% are taking five or more – in addition to 38% using over-the-counter meds on a frequent basis. Managing these medications in our later years can be quite challenging, and there are certain risks and dangers which can develop during the process.

As specialists in Fort Lauderdale home care, Responsive Home Care’s caregiving team assists older adults in ensuring meds are taken when and how they are prescribed. It is also extremely important to understand common issues seniors encounter with using their prescriptions, and just how to conquer them. For instance:

Occasionally, signs and symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy medical practitioners may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which calls for follow-up to find out if adjustment is needed; but in many cases, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure you schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.

Side effects may be more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – increasing the prospect of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be particularly vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Talk with the doctor if any of these medications are prescribed for an older family member and cautiously weigh the possible risks against benefits.

Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a struggle. Remembering that one certain med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it enormously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they are prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, like Responsive Home Care, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a certain prescription is high, older adults could very well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – an extremely risky behavior. Older adults can instead talk to their doctors about generic versions of medications, or any other methods to keep cost at a minimum.

Know about possible interactions with other meds. Bring a full listing of every one of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a physician or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who can confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in combination with one another. Be sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be shared with his or her physician.

Contact the Fort Lauderdale in-home care specialists at Responsive Home Care at 954-486-6440 for additional medication management tips, as well as for professional hands-on help with medication reminders, accompaniment to doctors’ appointments, and much more to help those you love remain healthy and safe.

New Research Finds Certain Common Medications Increase Dementia Risk

Research has connected certain medications commonly prescribed to an increase in dementia risk.

They’re currently understood to cause various short-term side effects, such as memory issues and confusion, but new research connects a number of the stronger anticholinergic drugs (such as those prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, and overactive bladder) to a markedly higher risk for dementia.

The study included two groups of seniors: 59,000 patients with dementia, and 225,000 without. About 57% of those with dementia, and 51% without, were provided at least one (and up to six) potent anticholinergic medications. Looking at other known dementia risk factors, the outcomes were an unexpected 50% greater chance of dementia in people who were taking strong anticholinergics daily for three or more years, with the greatest risk to men and women who received a dementia diagnosis before age 80.

It is worthwhile to note that there was no correlation observed between dementia and other kinds of anticholinergics (for example, antihistamines like Benadryl and GI medications).

While these findings do not prove anticholinergics as a cause for dementia, at the very least, “This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” said Tom Dening, study co-author and head of Nottingham’s Center for Dementia. Dening also stressed that people currently prescribed these medications should not cease taking them suddenly, which can cause a great deal more harm.

The suggestion is for any person worried about this possible link to consult with his / her doctors to consider the advantages against any potential risks, and to investigate alternative means of treatment when possible. As an example, individuals taking medications for assistance with sleeping – something that has grown to be more and more common in older adults – can contemplate behavioral changes and a more therapeutic plan over insomnia medications.

And no matter what the medications a senior loved one takes, proper medication management is key – something that’s easier said than done with many seniors taking multiple medications in a variety of doses at differing times during the day. Responsive Home Care’s medication reminder services are perfect to be sure that older adults take the correct medications at the proper time – each and every time.

Our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is also readily available to provide unique, compassionate, effective care strategies to help minimize the challenging components of the disease, bringing about an increased quality of life for seniors and their loved ones.  Responsive Home Care, provider of in home senior care Fort Lauderdale families trust, is here to help!  Call us at 954-486-6440 at any time to learn more.