KATE MAXWELL, PHD, MFT 1002 SPENCER AVENUE SANTA ROSA, CA 95404 707-237-8900 Dementia is a cluster of diseases that decrease mental functions
You may be aware that dementia is not a disease, but a category of dis-
eases, which result in decreased mental functioning. One of those diseases
is Alzheimer’s, which accounts for approximately 70% of dementia diseases.
Approximately 20% of dementia is related to vascular dementia caused by a
The current statistics are that 1 in 7 people over the age of 70 will develop
Age related memory loss is something that many of us are familiar with and
we notice that we have ways of working around the gap caused by a word or
topic disappearing from our mind. We usually know that it is a temporary
loss and we’ll remember the word or topic later.
I recently attended a presentation given by Steven Rubin, MD a geriatric
psychiatrist from Reno, Nevada, who specializes in the effects of drug inter-
actions in the elderly population (they are as sensitive to drugs as children
are). He informed us that when you put 4 over-the-counter or prescription
drugs together you get a 50% chance of problematic drug interactions and if
you have 6 or more of these drugs the likelihood of a problem is 100%. So
how do you know if someone is having problems due to drug interactions?
You have to listen to them. That takes time, especially if they are rambling.
Do you have time? Do their doctors have time or take time?
So how many drugs are you on? How about your parents? Do you know
older adults who are showing some beginning signs of dementia and are
taking an unbelievable number of prescription drugs-- for sleep and drugs for
the side effects of drugs and for the side effects of those drugs?
Do you know anyone with restless leg syndrome? According to Dr. Rubin,
this is linked to sleep apnea. Do the drugs for restless leg syndrome address
sleep apnea? No. He also stated that misdiagnosis in the elderly results in
prescriptions which could depress breathing (sleep apnea) compounding
many problems and further leading to dementia-like symptoms.
According to Dr. Rubin, the frequent result of a commonly constructed drug
cocktail is the appearance of dementia-like symptoms. Aricept was one of
the drugs Dr. Rubin mentioned as frequently prescribed for Alzheimer’s and
as having “horrific side effects.” He stated that in 33% of the cases where a
doctor is prescribing Aricept they are also prescribing drugs for incontinence
and the combination of just these two drugs results in a major decline in
functioning. A little web-surfing regarding Aricept finds it has resulted in a
reported 11 deaths in the test group and none in the control group. Not
surprisingly there is a lawsuit pending.
A medical doctor will determine if a person has dementia—which has a
physical basis, not a psychological one. However, if you are dealing with a
family member with dementia I may be able to help you adjust to the psy-
chological situation in a healthy and positive way.
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