Tag Archives: Dementia and Risky Drugs

Dementia: The Drugs Don’t Work!

The Waking Times recently published an article, available <HERE>, outlining the risks associated with taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines.  The infographics make sobering reading.  Once again I count my blessings that we live in North East Lincolnshire where we staff within NAViGO always weigh up the risks associated with prescribing medication and listen to patients.  Maureen and I were delighted when after three weeks assessment in the Konar Suite that the Consultant decided that medication was not needed at this moment in time!

 

Dementia: The Road To Antipsychotics

 

Image result for black box warning for antipsychotics pictures

  • Your husband has Alzheimer’s.
  • You receive little support.
  • You are worn out.
  • You put your husband into Respite Care.
  • He has no idea where he is.
  • He goes into a woman’s bedroom thinking it is you.
  • He responds physically when a carer tries to separate him from his ‘wife’.
  • The Police are called and he is removed to a Mental Health Unit.
  • He is Sectioned and detained in the MHU.
  • It takes 6 months before any Home will accept him as a resident.
  • His carers at his current Nursing Home say he is a ‘lovely man: easy to manage’.
  • He occasionally smiles as he sits alone and catatonic in the Dining Room.
  • Is there any incentive for the Annual Review to change my brother’s medication?

Dementia: Meditation Not Medication Version 2

Meditation design elements vector graphics 01

I don’t need any persuasion of the benefits of meditation.  Some years ago I began to show an interest in Buddhism, and began attending local classes in meditation.  I have had several teachers in my sporadic attendance, they have all  helped me to  grasp the simplicity of Buddhism.

When Jendrik, my current teacher, heard that I was unable to attend classes, because of Maureen’s condition, he popped round to see me.  Ed one of the longest members of the Grimsby Group has also met up for a chat on several occasions: we are getting together again this morning.

The Buddhist message, from both of my dear friends, has been to use this challenging time as an opportunity to address ‘self-cherishing’ and give ‘unconditional love’.  It therefore comes as no surprise to me that Meditation is now being seen as an important component of any strategy to deal with the impact of dementia.

Maureen has always been a little sceptical of Buddhism.  Therefore, I need to tread very carefully if meditation is to become part of both of our lives.  However, I’m optimistic that with patience she will see that meditation will become as beneficial to our lives as music. 

Any reader of this blog would know by now that we are generally reluctant to see medication as a panacea for health issues.  We believe in taking responsibility for our well-being with a healthy diet and exercise.

When we are unwell we look into our symptoms and try to find a solution without troubling our G P.  If natural cures don’t work we seek an appointment and take professional advice on the best way forward.  Even then we might try to sort things out ourselves once our ‘medicine man’ has made a diagnosis and prescribed his solution.

My Admiral Nurse has set me thinking about changes in Maureen’s presentation.  Her point that triggers are behind Maureen’s presentation has resonance with how I see the world.  In short I would put Maureen’s behaviour down to cause and effect: she is frightened about being abandoned and is searching for a life boat as she fears the ship is about to go down.

Working with the Home Treatment Team feels like with are with kindred spirits as we  seek calmer waters: they do not rely on the medical model .  They are aware of research that urges caution with an approach that relies on antidepressants and antipsychotic medication.  There is a strong body of opinion that these types of medication should not be used where dementia is a factor.  Thank goodness we are in that camp and not  fighting a battle to resist the introduction of antidepressants.

On Wednesday the Mental Health Nurse suggested that Maureen needed some help with regaining her confidence.  That has been my opinion for some time and  I do my best on that front day after day.  However, it is possible that a different approach or style could reap further dividends.  How lovely it would be to see Maureen ‘come out’ from behind the sofa and regain the vitality that has gone missing since stroke: with us all singing from the same hymn sheet that is now a distinct possibility.

Chloe our regular carer returns from her holiday today.  Maureen can’t wait to see ‘her hairdresser’ this morning: eagerly anticipating a makeover.  When I come home after seeing Ed at lunch-time I fully expect to see a transformation; with Maureen sitting chatting to Chloe rather than ‘Mrs Dementia’ being in situ.

If all goes to plan a Support Worker from the Home Treatment Team will be here on Sunday morning.  With luck she will persuade Maureen to go on a much needed clothes shopping expedition.  My late afternoon conversation with the HTT yesterday helped me to understand how significant their intervention can become.  How refreshing to have skilled experienced guides to help us find our way on this hazardous journey.

Dementia: Meditation Not Medication

Meditation design elements vector graphics 01

I don’t need any persuasion of the benefits of meditation.  Some years ago I began to show an interest in Buddhism, and began attending local classes in meditation.  I have had several teachers in my sporadic attendance, they have all  helped me to  grasp the simplicity of Buddhism.

When Jendrik, my current teacher, heard that I was unable to attend classes, because of Maureen’s condition, he popped round to see me.  Ed one of the longest members of the Grimsby Group has also met up for a chat on several occasions: we are getting together again this morning.

The Buddhist message, from both of my dear friends, has been to use this challenging time as an opportunity to address ‘self-cherishing’ and give ‘unconditional love’.  It therefore comes as no surprise to me that Meditation is now being seen as an important component of any strategy to deal with the impact of dementia.

Maureen has always been a little sceptical of Buddhism.  Therefore, I need to tread very carefully if meditation is to become part of both of our lives.  However, I’m optimistic that with patience she will see that meditation will become as beneficial to our lives as music. 

Any reader of this blog would know by now that we are generally reluctant to see medication as a panacea for health issues.  We believe in taking responsibility for our well-being with a healthy diet and exercise.

When we are unwell we look into our symptoms and try to find a solution without troubling our G P.  If natural cures don’t work we seek an appointment and take professional advice on the best way forward.  Even then we might try to sort things out ourselves once our ‘medicine man’ has made a diagnosis and prescribed his solution.

My Admiral Nurse has set me thinking about changes in Maureen’s presentation.  Her point that triggers are behind Maureen’s presentation has resonance with how I see the world.  In short I would put Maureen’s behaviour down to cause and effect: she is frightened about being abandoned and is searching for a life boat as she fears the ship is about to go down.

Working with the Home Treatment Team feels like with are with kindred spirits as we  seek calmer waters: they do not rely on the medical model .  They are aware of research that urges caution with an approach that relies on antidepressants and antipsychotic medication.  There is a strong body of opinion that these types of medication should not be used where dementia is a factor.  Thank goodness we are in that camp and not  fighting a battle to resist the introduction of antidepressants.

On Wednesday the Mental Health Nurse suggested that Maureen needed some help with regaining her confidence.  That has been my opinion for some time and  I do my best on that front day after day.  However, it is possible that a different approach or style could reap further dividends.  How lovely it would be to see Maureen ‘come out’ from behind the sofa and regain the vitality that has gone missing since stroke: with us all singing from the same hymn sheet that is now a distinct possibility.

Chloe our regular carer returns from her holiday today.  Maureen can’t wait to see ‘her hairdresser’ this morning: eagerly anticipating a makeover.  When I come home after seeing Ed at lunch-time I fully expect to see a transformation; with Maureen sitting chatting to Chloe rather than ‘Mrs Dementia’ being in situ.

If all goes to plan a Support Worker from the Home Treatment Team will be here on Sunday morning.  With luck she will persuade Maureen to go on a much needed clothes shopping expedition.  My late afternoon conversation with the HTT yesterday helped me to understand how significant their intervention can become.  How refreshing to have skilled experienced guides to help us find our way on this hazardous journey.

This post was finalised today 8th April 2016

Dementia: Talking Therapies Needed

I have decided to change my plans on my second Blog of the day.   Rather than dealing with Christmas I need to focus on an issue that Maureen has to deal with day after day: low mood and grief.  She woke up this morning, once again, confused and grief stricken; even depressed.   Her thoughts had taken her into negative territory and by the time I had tea beside her in bed her mood was definitely low.

Some time ago I mentioned that the Memory Service had offered to keep her on their books if she admitted to low mood.  A Care Co-ordinator said she could understand if her mood was low, and if it was they could help her.  As the only reason they could keep Maureen on their books was to monitor medication, I think it is fairly safe to say that antidepressants were around the corner.  I am bemused here because Irving Kirsch was only across the Humber Bridge at Hull University when he proved that antidepressants were no better than a sugar coated pill for mild to moderate depression.  He used Freedom of Information to prove that drug companies had not disclosed details of tests that did not cast their medication in a positive light.

When you consider what Maureen has been through lately why would you prescribe tablets that are likely to give her side effects?   Her own G P is reluctant to prescribe medication unless it is essential because he knows that her body does not react well to tablets.  Why on earth is talking therapy not part of NICE Guidelines when someone is diagnosed with dementia?  Once again I’m back one of my hobby horse that we need to move dementia out of Mental Health: it is not an affective disorder it is brain injury.  This might just lead to an acceptance that talking about the potential of the condition to lower your mood might be helpful.  Wasting time and money on tablets that don’t work is crazy: talking therapies are needed!

Dementia: Dump the Risky Drugs

More on the dangers on using risky drugs for dementia from an article by Irving Kirsch in New Scientist. I make no apologies for continuing to use Irving as a resource on this Blog.  I am pretty certain if I had not read his book: The Emperors New Drug I would have remained on mirtazapine for life.

“Black Box Warning” against anti psychotic drugs in dementia care

Excellent Blog from Katie Swaffer:

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 11.22.59 amThis quote by Danny Miller is one of my favourites, and is also used in the header of a blog I follow, The PPJ Gazette. This article although nor specifically discussing the dangers of the use of anti psychotics in dementia care, warns very clearly of the dangers of prescribing them, and is worth a read.

Warnings for Patients Taking Psych Drugs (also for their families and prescribing practitioners)

The blog is by Dr. Gary G. Kohls, who is a family practitioner, who specializes in holistic and preventive mental health care. He has expertise in the areas of traumatic stress disorders, brain nutrition, non-pharmaceutical approaches to mental ill health, neurotransmitter disorders, neurotoxicity from food additives (and other environmental toxins) and the problems with psychotropic drugs.

Dr Kohls begins the article with this:

“Over the years, I have formally taught my patients (as well as many participants in my lectures and seminars) about…

View original post 373 more words

Dementia: ‘Will She Take Statins?’

When The G P phoned a couple of days ago he asked me if I thought my wife would take statins?  He is aware of the side effects she has had from lots of medication and that she would be circumspect about another tablet.  When we called in for an appointment later in the afternoon, he did his best to outline the risk factors and tried to cajole M to take just one more tablet.  It was hard work as M followed the household Party Line of general resistance to take medication.  I have to admit at the time I thought M was being stubborn but I am now coming to the conclusion that her instinct is spot on.

I caught up on statins a little yesterday, by calling in advice from one of my reference groups.  Even with an elevated reading of 6.1 my friendly chemist shook her head and said something to the effect of; ‘so what she doesn’t need statins’.  She asserts that there is no evidence base for their efficacy and the risk levels have no basis.  I opened up a Thread on Talking Point and sought information from those who were travelling a similar journey.  My limited search on the Internet turned up a BMJ article that raises issues about the widespread use of statins.  So it appears that my wife’s instinct is well founded.  This is the second time that further medication has been suggested, that has been wisely questioned, and eventually rejected.

My wife has faced a similar battle over mood.  It could be argued that once again she followed the Party Line of her Old Man.  My judgement has been based on a lot more research than has been undertaken with statins.  Witnessing my experience with depression and an understanding that there is little validity in the ‘chemical imbalance theory’ that has been sold by the drug companies, would have led her to question the need for antidepressants.  She maybe  hasn’t read as many of his publications as me but I am sure she has seen enough of Irving Kirsch on YouTube to grasp the nettle here.

My answer to the G P’s question  is: ‘I don’t think so’.  Just like antidepressants she know that she doesn’t really need them.  If I felt inspired I would try to emulate Irving here and come up with something akin to: ‘The Emperor’s New Drug’, as he has for the antidepressant issue.  Perhaps, later in the day I will come up with something and edit this post.  In the mean time I am pretty sure those statins will remain in the packet and I think that is the best place for them.

Dementia: Dump The Risky Drugs

I think we are possibly facing a crossroads at this juncture in sorting out the best way to support my wife.  There is little doubt that her presentation is changing.  Her energy levels seem to be diminishing with tiredness a constant factor of her life.  In addition, her world is shrinking and she lacks any real interest in anything apart from her immediate surroundings. When visitors call she puts on a ‘hostess mode’ and shows a polite interest in their presence.  Clearly her emotional memory is intact and when pressed she shows an interest in other members of her family: particularly when they are around.  However, when they are gone it is really a question of: out of site out of mind.

I accept that the above paragraph is conjecture.  It is purely based on my interpretation of her behaviour and actions.  Perhaps, she has just forgotten how to keep in touch with family members or it has become too difficult following stroke.  Consider this: she decides to phone one of her sons; she has never remembered phone numbers; she can’t remember where her glasses are; she can’t find our phone book: she doesn’t remember how to use the phone; she doesn’t like phone calls.  None of this bodes well for keeping in touch and she is reluctant to receive incoming calls.

So you might ask why don’t you help her to make or take calls?  The simple answer is that I do and often witness her coming off the phone tired and distressed.  There is a simple reason for her not enjoying phone calls: they remind her she has dementia.  Her memory is so poor that she is unable to answer questions that are a part of any phone conversation.  On many occasions I have listened in on her calls as I going about my daily tasks.  I have heard her telling all sorts of tales that are complete fabrications (confabulations) of what she has been doing.  The person at the other line is spun a host of activities that have never taken place.  Now where am I taking all of this I’ll explain……………..

There is a danger of my wife’s current patterns of behaviour being seen as low mood; even depression.  On occasions she gets very anxious about things and her agitation is apparent.  Dementia is hosted in Mental Health where locally the Medical Model is popular: psychiatric rather than psychological approaches are predominant .  Early on her journey the Memory Service suggested they could help her if she had ‘low mood’: in fact they grilled her on that subject.  A few days ago someone asked her ‘if she was happy’ and she is suspicions about their enquiries.

My wife is in denial about the consequences of stroke.  Her recovery has been incredible but the damage to her eye sight and short term memory will remain as a legacy to the events on the last day of February in 2014.  We both feel that there are dangers ahead with this focus, yet again, on mood.  There is one simple question I would ask: with all that has happened to her in the last eighteen months would we be expecting her to be feeling over the moon?

I have already alluded to the shortcoming of antidepressants and the questionable theory of chemical imbalance.  Even greater dangers are present with using such medication where the individual has dementia as Irving Kirsch has outlined in this short article.  The other problem is that my wife is hypersensitive to various types of medication and introducing any further tablets is risky.  I am therefore hoping  that when the Home Treatment Team visit on Friday their suggestions for support will come  from a Psycho Social Model: It’s Good to Talk!