Dementia Drugs Come Up Short

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Just recently a close family member suffered a stroke that significantly affected her memory. She had gotten into her car one day leaving the house unlocked and the garage door open and headed off to the mountain to meet a close friend. The only problem was she thought it was 1936 and that she was in California. Twelve hours later (11pm) a young couple were out in the foot hills of the Vegas valley on a deserted dirt road and came across her car stuck on a large rock. They were kind enough to go back to their home and get a jack to lift her car off the rock and drive her and her car to the nearest hospital. A month later she is still very confused but is getting a little bit of her memory back. We like many other families are now faced with the decision of whether or not to place her on any of the 5 available medications for dementia. Several recent studies have indicated that the effectiveness of these drugs is scant. Combine this with the cost ( between $150-$160 a month) and potential side effects doctors and family members should use prudence in placing patients on these medications. One doctor on evaluating these studies made this comment. I use a weight-loss analogy. If you lose a half a pound after taking a weight-loss drug for 6 months, it’s significant if you power the study with enough people, but is that really a meaningful benefit? Terry Pfau DO, HMD