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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. Call us at 954-486-6440 at any time to learn more.

Dementia Care Tips: Best Approaches to Avoid Personal Care Resistance

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Use these tips to help a senior loved one with dementia manage personal care tasks.

Of all the challenges related to providing care for a senior loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for a variety of reasons:

  • Diminished sense of vision and smell
  • Comfort associated with familiarity (i.e., wanting to wear the same clothes again and again)
  • The challenges of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
  • Anxiety about falling, the sounds and feelings associated with the water, and so much more

Cajoling, quarrelling, and reasoning are rarely practical techniques to employ with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alternatively, consider these creative approaches in the event your loved one resists maintaining suitable hygiene:

  • Organize the bathroom ahead of time so the room is likely to be comfortable and you won’t need to juggle acquiring supplies together with helping the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and set soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, plus eliminate any throw rugs or any other tripping hazards.
  • A shower chair and hand-held sprayer frequently make an even more calming bathing experience for anyone with dementia. Position the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover up parts of the body before and after they have been cleaned to help keep the senior warm and to prevent feelings of exposure.
  • Have the senior help with bathing tasks whenever possible to maintain independence. It could be as basic as providing a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold on to.
  • If hair washing is hard for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and schedule regular outings to the salon instead.
  • Arrange a special excursion together with the senior, such as a lunch date with a good friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
  • Bring in the assistance of a healthcare professional, who can advise the senior regarding the increased chance of infection or skin issues without proper hygiene. Often hearing from a dependable third party holds more weight than hearing the same information from family members.
  • Engage the services of a caregiver, providing your loved one the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a relative.

At Responsive Home Care, each of our caregivers is experienced in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specific training to help those with Alzheimer’s disease to feel comfortable with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Give us a call at 954-486-6440 or contact us online to discover practical solutions to the worries you and your loved one are facing!