Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Mum isn't on Namenda or other medication

People have asked why Mum isn't on the 'standard' medications for Alzheimers. Firstly, I haven't been able to find any doctor willing to say that she has Alzheimers. As you might know, it can only be positively identified after death if there is an autopsy. Apparently these medications are not 'standard' for suspected Alzheimers here in Australia. And it can only ever be 'suspected' Alzheimers as there is no test for it. The one specialist I approached told me the side effects are 'far too dangerous and risky' particularly for someone like my mother who has chronic renal disease and blood disorders. I have some Valium for her to take occasionally when she's extremely agitated and this works well, as does a shot of medicinal brandy at night when things are bad. If you check out the info from the drug company itself regarding Namenda it is fairly scary:
Namenda may cause some side effects. Some of the milder side effects may include joint pain, weight loss, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, swelling of the hands or feet, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, swelling around the eyes, frequent urination, aggression, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite and being easy to bruise or bleed. (THESE ARE CONSIDERED MILD?!?) Some of the more serious side effects may include hallucinations, seizures, confusion, sudden numbness, chest tightness, problems breathing, fever, fainting, blurred vision, lack of coordination and less-frequent urination.
I am desperate enough that I would allow a doctor to prescribe these things at this stage but the fact is, they won't. There is a lot of suspicion in Australia that these drugs can kill people.
Mum has never taken pharmaceutical drugs. She's always been opposed to them. My own view is they're mostly poisonous to the system. I know if she was in her right state of mind, she'd say no to Namenda.
I would say no, too, and have instructed my children that when this disease strikes me down - and it will - I do not want to take these medications in any circumstances, nor anti-depressants.


  1. My Mother is also against taking pills. She refused to take the anti-anxiety medication the doctor prescribed. Lately, using a pill minder, she's more receptive and we can sneak in the anti anxiety medication. Even thought Mom has been taking Aricept for just over a year, we've seen zero change in her. She has still deteriorated. It does make you wonder if you should just take nothing and let the disease progress and be done instead of dragging it out.

  2. Yes it is really hard to know what is the right thing to do regarding these "memory" medications,my Mum was trialled on a very low dose, didn't seem to make much difference and the main worry is that they are more prone to falls! She is now off them and kind of glad, feel like they are using our parents generation as guinea pigs!

  3. Thanks for your comments Debbie and Stef. Mum takes the occasional Valium if she is feeling very agitated, also a shot of brandy helps her settle towards sunset. I think that Turmeric may possibly help so she takes that as well as all kinds of vitamins and fish oil.


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