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Alzheimer's Disease

Should I Stop Alzheimer`s Medicine

04/09/2009

Question:

I was advised that the namenda my husband has taken for 2 years is not needed as it really will not make a difference. This was a hospice nurse and she, as well as the doctor, feel it does not help. I am wondering why it was ordered in the first place, if that is true? I guess I could restart the medication if it does make a difference? Husband is about stage 6, walks, eats, incontinent, confused as to time and place, needs help bathing, dressing, not much interaction, needs much direction, very little verbal skills, etc. He is 86. Has always been healthy. Could it be his age makes a difference in treating? Thanks.

Answer:

Namenda has proven to be effective for patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease and was approved by the FDA after evaluating all the study data. The most common benefit I have noticed with it is an alerting effect and help with communication skills. I would suggest its use in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor medication (Aricept, Exelon, or Razadyne) for almost all Alzheimer's disease patients. There does come a time in the disease, where the patients is unable to communicate at all, and is total care (does not assist) with all activities including feeding and toileting. At this time it would be reasonable to stop the medications.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University