Friday, September 24, 2010

What To Ask Your Doctor About Alzheimer's Medications

Photo © Microsoft

If you're going to ask your doctor about one of the FDA-approved Alzheimer's medications, it seems like your first question should be, "Which one works the best?" But according to a group of primary care physicians representing the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, little evidence indicates that certain drugs forAlzheimer's disease work better than others.


Instead, the real differences between Alzheimer's medications include cost, potential adverse reactions, and how easy the medication is to take (for example, if the drug must be taken several times a day, will this be too complicated or burdensome?). Whether you're a caregiver exploring treatments for your loved one or you've recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, try asking your doctor the following questions:

Which medication will be safest when taken with the other medications prescribed for me/my relative?

Which medication has the lowest risk for side effects given my/my relative's current medical status?

What kinds of adverse reactions should I watch for at home, and when should I notify you of a possible adverse effect?

How is each medication taken (pill, liquid, skin patch, etc.)? How often does each one need to be taken? Are there other instructions that I'll need to remember, such as taking it with or without food?

How long will it take to assess whether the drug is working? If it does work, will there one day be a time to stop taking the drug?

How much does each medication cost? What will my insurance cover? Do you recommend generic forms of any of these medications?

Finding out about these issues will increase your chances of finding a treatment that best suits you or your loved one.

For more information about FDA-approved medications for Alzheimer's disease, including potential side effects and other precautions, see the following drug profiles:

Aricept
Exelon
Namenda
Razadyne

Also, to check for side effects and drug interactions among over 200 medications, see Drugs A to Z.

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