Should my loved one be taking one of the few Alzheimer’s medications currently approved by the FDA? It’s something that we have all wondered during the course of this journey. What, if anything, are the drugs promising? Is there really a benefit? Is there a down side? At what point should he/she be taken off the drugs?
- the importance of knowing what stage of the disease your loved one is in
- common drug interactions (both good and bad)
- financial considerations
- when it makes sense to stop taking the drugs
According to Larkin, it is currently estimated that the ALZ medications are helping approximately 30% of people who are taking them, while 70% are seeing no benefit. The bottom line is that, like so many aspects of this disease, it’s a guessing game. A gamble.
In our case, getting the meds right was a constant struggle. My mom took Aricept for approximately six years, until she went on hospice in November. Her neurologist didn’t feel strongly one way or the other, and I had heard of cases where patients who stopped taking it experienced a rapid decline. My inclination was to keep her on it; I wasn’t willing to take the chance only to find out I was wrong. Right decision? I have no idea.
That’s the kicker about this disease – no one knows the answers; all we can do is educate ourselves as much as possible so we can make informed decisions. At the end of the day, we do the best we can based on what we know and what our gut tells us… Not terribly scientific, but until research turns up some more conclusive evidence one way or another, we often find ourselves wedged soundly between a rock and a hard place.