Depressed And Demented

Ambien And Dementia

Understanding what an elderly person with dementia is going through is like trying to understand what it feels like to slowly lose your memory for good. Imagine forgetting to turn off the stove or driving to the supermarket and ending up across town by a bridge which you have never seen before!

Try to imagine what it would feel like to be living in your last years of life with memory loss. Not only is your life coming to an end and are unconsciously worrying whether you have lived a productive and meaningful life, but your memory is also slowly fading away. And imagine feeling confused and forgetting details related to everyday situations.

Imagine performing an activity with a person one day and almost forgetting about it the next; “what was it that we did yesterday?” Patients with dementia do not forget as much autobiographical information as they do with recent activities that were just performed. Ask them where and when they were born and they will most likely be able to provide you with that information.

Ask them what they had for breakfast and they will give you a blank stare! On top of that, 1/3 of patients with dementia suffer from depression. Let’s sum this scenario up:

  • Elderly knowing that your life is soon coming to an end
  • End of life worries regarding having lived a prosperous and fulfilling life
  • Confusion about everyday events
  • Memory loss about everyday events
  • Depression

How would you feel if you experienced the above scenario? In addition, many patients with dementia may be prescribed psychotropic medications despite contraindications. For instance, Prozac and Zoloft may cause fractures and falls in the elderly. Antipsychotics increase the risk of death in patients with dementia, and benzodiazepines increase the risk of falls in the elderly.

Ambien or Zolpidem is a “Z-Drug” or sleeping medication used for insomnia. It is known to cause cognitive impairment and amnesia as side effects. Consider a patient with dementia who is suffering from insomnia, and who is prescribed Ambien by their physician. Not only is this patient losing their memory, but they are now taking a medication that worsen’s their cognition!

One would argue, “no physician in their right mind would prescribe a demented patient a medication that does that!” But is it really that hard to believe? Just because someone went to medical school and received an MD or DO degree, does not mean that they are a competent physician!

Overall, we need to be understanding and compassionate in regards to what patients with dementia are going through; especially family members who understandably lose patience with their loved ones. Consider the symptoms mentioned above and try to put yourself in their shoes.

I don’t think you’ll be going to sleep tonight dreaming of that scenario!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


6 Replies to “Depressed And Demented”

  1. My dad was prescribed Zoloft! He was suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s! This was from one of the best neurologists in town so no this is not a rare case scenario! this exists and also thrives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing Shishira. It doesn’t mean that Zoloft or others can’t be prescribed for the above conditions. It just means one has to take the side effects into consideration more than if they were prescribed for a 26 y/o male.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I get that. I do understand the effects of zoldipem. I am all for it. Unless drug drug interactions and patient drug response is monitored to observe the changes. Every patient is different hence they react differently for the drug prescribed. It’s not like you give the drug and keep continuing when patients condition is visibly deteriorating!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Also, I was prescribed Zoloft for depression for 5 long years and was hardly 23. Although I consistently complained about side effects. Until one day I called a shot and stopped it my own. That’s how I realize this drug at personal level.

        Liked by 1 person

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