My dad is 83 and has what they call a touch of dementia. His worst times are at night, continual asking of the same questions repeatedly, pulling out his urinal and going every two minutes,(75% of the time he does not even go), and taking his false teeth out and putting them in his pocket repeatedly. We are trying to care for him between three of us to keep him out of a nursing home. We have been doing this for over a year now, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult. When he becomes agitated we give him a couple of Tylenol PM's, this seems to have a calming effect, and slows him down. Check with your Dr. Good luck. I can relate to what you are going thru.
Everyone w/AD has dementia, but not everyone w/dementia has AD. Dementia is a symptom, like fever is a symptom, and can come from a blow to the head, adverse reactions to meds, a number of diseases, depression, allergies, etc. Alzheimer's is a specific disease that destroys the brain cells. It is the major cause of dementia. Good luck, Sometimes these AD problems are very difficult.
OK, where to start? I'll be as brief as possiable.
(And for me that's pretty much imposiable).
Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain. As the brain cells die they are not replaced. Unlike other diseases that just effect the body. Because Alzheimer's is a disease that effects the brain only and not other body organs; therefore, you have a unique physical disease, which is also a mental disease (same as, - at any rate, even though maybe not technically). What I am trying to say here is that technically if you have a disease of the heart you do not typically refuse to see a doctor, saying that nothing is wrong. And, if you have a liver disease it seldom makes you have several fender benders because of a lack of good driveing judgement. And, rarely if you have bone disease do you become argumentitive and think that your family and friends are stealing from you. (nuff said).
In Dementia you have the brain, for one reason or another, that is acting slower; or, not acting properly in some areas, due to age or other considerations. As Betty so aptly says, all people with Alzheimer's have dementia, but not all people with dementia have Alzheimer's. (It's like all people with Lung Cancer have Cancer; but, not all people with Cancer have Lung Cancer.) Dementia is a general diagnosis while Alzheimer's is dementia specific. So you are right, the treatments for both are similar, but as each person is unique, with different personalities, controled by their unique brains; not all treatment for either condition is exact, nor the same (or should they be) for every body.
Pot effects the brain. More so than any other body organ. It is a stimulas, but also it can calm a person at the same time. (Kinda like a good massage, it stimulates the circulation (blood), while at the same time, it conversly calms the nerves and has an overall soothing effect). However, pot can give you a "false" sense of uphoria. And, judgement while under it's influence can be really faulty, as it has mind altering properties.
My way of thinking is thus:
If dementia and Alzheimer's are brain exclusive diseases and Pot is a brain altering, and emotional altering, drug???? Would it then be, very smart to mix the two? I would think not. If only for the simple reason that the person doing the ingesting is already struggleing to maintain "normalacy". Why wouldn't you do everything in your power to not, "rock the boat" ~~ brainwise? If it were me, it would make sense to find out the reason for the "distress" or aggitation, and then treat it accordingly. (For example, aggitation and distress in the mid to late afternoon and increased progression into evenings is called "sundowning" or "sundowners". With the proper diagnosis and treatment, most umpleasent symptoms of either Alzheimer's or Dementia can be, if not altered, at least minamized.
Drugs are not the only thing that you can try or use to belay distress and aggitation. When my mom had her disease in later stages, I learned that the care nurses in the Alzheimer's unit of our local hospital had a much different approach to their patients than in the general hospital ward. There have been many many times in the last few years that I have hoped that all caregivers of dementia and Alzheimer's would have to take a course, or learn such care techniques to deal with someone or take care of these very "special", brain problem patients.
These people need to be treated with patients and understanding. It is important for you to know that they are powerless to help their responses or their condition. (They can not control it ~ or help it). When you can relate to their brain slowly dyeing you will be able to understand the great anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and aggitatioon that they go thru. These people need great reassurance. Constant attention and care. And, careful monitoring.
Do not expect them to understand any higher functioning or elete ideas or concepts. You do not have to "talk down" to them, but you do have to be aware and appreciate their special circumstances. Keep the enviornment non-cluttered and calming and simple to understand. Do not hesitate to gently repeat things that they need to understand. When change or action is requiored, go into it gently with great explanation. Understand that they are frightened and greatly disoriented and that simple things that we take for granted can be very confusing, scary and even frustrating for them.
My gosh, if you understand all that, and do all that, you can see from my response why I do not want anyone with dementia or Alzheimer's to have someting that will give them dellusions or "space" them out.....My Goodness, they are already "spaced out", enough.
Please learn more about Dementia and Alzheimer's and how they effect their victums before you think about doing such a radical thing as giving someone that can no longer fend for themselves mentally, a mind altering drug. I think that a drug that has the hope of bring them more clarity rather than more confusion would be in order.
But then that's just my personal opinion.
[This message has been edited by gizmolove (edited 09-28-2003).]
A friend of mine questioned whether marijuana would have any kind of mellowing/calming effect on my father. Does anyone have any information or experience in regards to this?
As you've already heard some great technical explanations, I'll simply add an opinion.
IMO, most of the mood/mind altering drugs, whether they be prescription or not, are more beneficial for the care-givers than the patient. IOW, gramps is a PITA with all his constant haranguing so let's dope him up. We have no way of knowing if it's really good for him but it definitely is good for us.
IME, the more clear-headed the patient is, the less anxious and intrusive they'll be, at least until late stage when personality no longer exists at all.
We've had pretty nasty effects from mood drugs, both during and after treatment, in both my wife and mother. My wife is still battling memory problems from Effexor 8 months after discontinuance. My mom was far more agitated on Ativan and later Buspirone, not to mention befuddled, than after discontinuance. Her therapists had to discontinue cognitive therapy because she could barely pay attention. Once off the drugs, she was much better and more engaged.
Everyone's experiences are different but my submission is to think very carefully before giving such drugs to a loved one.
Just wanted to add that it appears [url="http://www.seroquel.com/cons_asp/index.asp"]Seroquel[/url] has been received fairly well by AD patients with manic behavioral problems, even though the drug is not an AD drug, per se.