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Alzheimer’s: Answers to Common Questions

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1. Are there any bad side effects from Alzheimer’s drugs?

A person with Alzheimer's disease may be taking medicines to treat their symptoms and other health problems they have. But when they take many medications at once, there’s a higher chance they’ll have a bad reaction to them. The problems can include confusion, agitation, sleepiness or sleeplessness, mood swings, memory problems, and upset stomach.

Some people who have severe symptoms of Alzheimer's disease -- such as aggressive behavior or hallucinations (seeing, feeling, or hearing things that aren’t there) – may need stronger medicine to keep their problems under control. But some of these drugs can make their other Alzheimer’s symptoms worse. For example:

  • Some drugs such as tranquilizers can cause confusion, memory trouble, and slowed reactions, which can lead to falls.
  • Medicines that treat depression can cause sedation and other side effects.
  • Some medicines that treat hallucinations can cause sedation, confusion, and drops in blood pressure.

Ask your doctor about the pros and cons of these options. Also, some over-the-counter drugs, including cough and cold remedies, and sleep medicines, can have side effects, too. They may also react with other Alzheimer’s meds. A doctor can let you know which ones are safe to take.

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What to Do After an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Rosemary Orange, 53, of Ottawa, Ontario, suspected something was wrong with her 83-year-old mother, Sylvia. "She'd go shopping and forget what she was doing," Orange says. "So she'd come right back home without buying anything." Several months later, Orange's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a type of dementia that affects nearly 36 million people worldwide. That rate is expected to nearly double in the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. What can you do if a parent...

Read the What to Do After an Alzheimer's Diagnosis article > >

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