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Living with Dementia

SSRIs Not Safe for Elderly Dementia Patients, Says Alzheimer’s Society

  • - Dementia News
  • Jan 21, 2012
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  • Viewed: 2628
Tags: | alzheimer's society | dementia patients | selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor | ssri |

A research conducted recently by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are of no benefit for dementia patients living in care homes. Initially, it was thought that these drugs would be great relief from the conventional drugs which have lots of side effects.

However, now it is being said that SSRIs make a person suffering dementia to fall quite often which could lead to his death. As per the research, the risk of this kind of medication is three times more than that caused by using conventional dementia drugs.

Professor Clive Ballard, the Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society said, “Two thirds of care home residents have dementia so it is worrying that a common antidepressant, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), is causing increased risk to people with the condition”.

He further affirmed that they would be extending the research so they could get to know about other safer options for dementia patients. They want to find an alternative early so that they could start with its prescriptions as about two-third elderly people living in care homes are suffering dementia. So they have to make sure that they remain safe there.

In addition to this, another group of researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam concluded the same thing in their research. In their research they found that a person taking SSRIs falls about 248 times in a period of two years. During the period, more than 583 elderly people suffered severe injuries such as fractures, sprains, bruises, and even death to similar mishaps. As per them, there is direct association between SSRIs and falls.

So now, it has become more important to find another safer option for dementia people who live in care homes. It is reported that there are chances for the research team to join Alzheimer’s Society in their further research.

Importance of an Early Medical Check-Up

People should be aware that any struggles in their ability to remember or to manage their daily routine and pile of responsibilities may indicate changes in brain health.  A question of changes in brain health should lead to setting up a medical check-up with the doctor.  Health problems such as changes in blood pressure, heart disease, or hormone balances can affect brain health.  Brain health changes may also result from poor diet, lack of exercise or brain stimulation, and not drinking enough water every day.  Brain function may change as a result of stress, medicines, and many other reasons. Such changes in brain cell function, if caught early enough, may be easy to fix. 

Other changes may need some therapies such as medicines to stabilize a chronic health condition that can affect brain cell health.  Some of these conditions are: High Blood Pressure, very low blood pressure, uneven heart beat, or a heart beat that is too fast or too slow.  Other conditions such as diabetes affect arteries and veins and thus may limit a good flow of blood throughout the brain (and body).  Better control of the diabetes may result in less damage to the health of the blood vessels, less damage to blood flow, and less damage to brain cells.

In some cases of progressive dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, the doctor may offer some recommendations including some medicines that may improve or boost brain cell function.


Early Changes in Emotion
Changes in the ability to express or understand emotion may be an early sign of a depression
or a progressive dementia.  Emotion is expressed in words, not only the particular words
used, but also in the tone of the words spoken, in loudness (or a whisper), and in the rate of
speed of the words being spoken.  The face or body movements used when speaking add to
the emotion of the words. 

Sometimes the ability to understand emotion remains accurate while there is less ability to
show emotion in the speaker’s voice or face.  Or, the opposite may occur; the ability to
express emotion may be normal but the person may be unable to understand other people’s
emotion being expressed in speech or facial expressions. 

These changes need a medical evaluation.  There may be a fixable cause such as a
depression.  Or the change may be a sign of the early stages of a treatable condition such as
Parkinson disease.  The changes may be a sign of a progressive condition that is more
challenging to treat (as of 2008) such as a frontotemporal lobar degeneration (for more
information on Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, see 

Early Changes in Judgment
Changes in the ability to use good judgment when talking or acting may be an early sign of
decline in brain cell health. The person who has a typically shy personality and becomes
outgoing with anyone even strangers may be showing lack of judgment.  They are not
thinking of possible consequences and are just moving ahead with a sudden interest or
desire to act. 

When a person acts quickly without thinking of consequences or when a person acts quickly
without weighing possible negative results, such spontaneous actions may end up with
actions that show a lack of good judgment. An example of poor judgment is when a diabetic
eats too many sweets and ignores the predictable consequences of having a bad reaction. 
Talking about private family matters with a stranger may lead to unpleasant responses from
the stranger.  Discussing intimate feelings with a stranger or touching the stranger
inappropriately may lead to unpleasant reactions such as a call for help from a law
enforcement officer.

Nimisha Sachdev

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Alzheimer’s Disease

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