Can Over-Medicating Worsen Dementia Symptoms?

From the AP:

“Claire Dinneen’s daughters thought that worsening dementia was causing her growing confusion, but her doctor suspected something else.

Dr. Pei Chen asked them to round up medicines in the 89-year-old woman’s home and they returned with a huge haul. There were 28 drugs ordered by various doctors for various ailments, plus over-the-counter medicines. Chen spent a year sorting out which ones were truly needed and trimmed a dozen.

To her daughters’ surprise, Dinneen got better, able to remember more things and to offer advice on what to wear and how to raise their kids. Her symptoms were from “medication fog,” not her dementia getting worse, Chen told one daughter.”

Claire’s situation may be an outlier, but there’s no question many seniors are on a lot of medications & supplements. Often these drugs are prescribed by several different doctors who don’t communicate with one another. It’s essential that you sit down with your senior loved ones regularly and go over the medication regimens they’re on. Make a chart or spreadsheet detailing all of the drugs and supplements they take, what they treat, who prescribed them, and when they began taking it. At their next appointment with their primary care physician, make sure that the chart or spreadsheet is discussed. It’s possible there are drugs there which should be stopped or even ones which may be having harmful interactions.

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