More Medication is Not the Answer to Dementia

Dementia Overmedication

Did you know that overmedication can worsen dementia? And that overmedication in general is a crisis for older adults? Seniors taking 5 medications or more a day are at a greater risk of having a negative reaction to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and being hospitalized. To boot, that risk is even greater if that senior has dementia. In this article, our team of memory care specialists in Camden County will discuss the risks of overmedication in dementia and ways to prevent this from happening to your loved one.

Overmedication Risks for Seniors with Dementia

Taking multiple medications together, also known as polypharmacy, can increase the likelihood of dangerous drug reactions, falls, overdoses and further mental deterioration in older adults with dementia. Something that seems safe enough like Benadryl, which is available OTC, is actually one of the worst drugs someone with dementia could take. Sleep aids like Benadryl contain diphenhydramine which limits a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s responsible for memory recollection, learning skills and important muscle functions. Opioids for pain are dangerous as well. If an opioid is taken in conjunction with antipsychotics and anti-seizure medications (which they often are for dementia patients) there is a heightened risk for overdose and even death.

So, how can you ensure your loved one with dementia isn’t overmedicated?

Ways to Prevent Overmedication in Older Adults with Dementia

The best way to prevent overmedication is to be your loved one’s advocate. Read up about the effects that certain medications have on those with dementia. It’s important to feel well-informed and confident before making a serious healthcare decision that can impact the wellbeing of your senior parent. There are free resources available like ebooks about dementia medications that eliminate the confusing medical jargon and break down what you really need to know. You could also consult with a professional memory care facility about how best to treat your loved one with dementia. A reputable memory care community will be up to date with the latest dementia and Alzheimer’s treatments, and will be able to discuss different options with you. Sometimes, these options don’t include medication at all. Example memory care methods include:

  • Listening to music. Never underestimate the power of music, especially for your loved one living with dementia. Many studies have proven that calming or enjoyable, up-beat music releases dopamine in the brain, resulting in those “feel-good” feelings that can overpower stress and pain.
  • Sensory products. Having something to touch, chew, or fidget with like gum, stress balls, or fidget spinners can do wonders for senior stress relief. Sensory products can redirect your loved one’s anxiety and help them to focus on something more positive.
  • Spending more time outside. When your loved one is experiencing a negative dementia behavior, it’s time for a reset. Spending more time outdoors on a daily basis is a great way to redirect feelings of stress and pain. Fresh air, familiar surroundings and comforting white noise like a running stream nearby can help mom or dad take their mind off of what’s bothering them.
  • Daily walks or doctor-approved exercise. Seniors who make physical exercise a daily priority can better manage chronic pain or even keep it away. Something as simple as a daily walk outside can hold multiple health benefits for seniors like keeping their joints strong, improving their balance, and relieving stress.

Dementia support for seniors in Collingswood NJ

Reliable memory care methods provided by a reputable senior living community is one of the best ways to help your loved one with dementia who may be in pain. At Collingswood, our Tapestries® memory care neighborhood has welcoming, dementia-safe apartments where seniors are safe to enjoy their hobbies, release their stress and have meaningful experiences every day.

If your loved one is showing signs of dementia and you are having difficulty caring for them, please call us today to find out whether a move to a dedicated memory care neighborhood in Camden County is the right option. To learn more about advanced memory care methods and treatment, please visit our website at:

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