Could meds be causing her aggression?

Lg11360 asked...

My mother has been taking Aricept for two years and her doctor just added Namenda to her daily meds. Since taking Namenda for the last month, she's become noticeably more aggressive/angry. We returned her leased car six months ago and she's very angry that we took her car away. We try to tell her it was for her own safety and for that of others...she has a personal driver three days a week, but she's obsessing with anger now over this on a daily basis. It seems this has worsened quite a bit since adding Namenda. Could the Namenda be contributing to her aggression?

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Finding the right combination of Alzheimer meds can be tricky as individual patients may react differently particularly when an additional med is being used. One of the side effects of Alzheimer meds is often an improvement in awareness which leads to increased anger and frustration and aggression as the patient wrestles with the realization of his/her debility. I would trust my gut feeling that the combination of meds may be the cause of your Mom's increased outbursts. Do try it again later; The person with AD frequently reacts more positively on the second or third reintroduction of Alzheimer meds and the results are well worth the wait. Sometimes a fiblet works far better than trying to reason with the AD person who is basically losing the ability to reason. For example, try telling Mom 'the car is in the garage for a tune up' rather than explaining your fear of her driving. It is better to have the automobile 'broken' rather than have your loved one feel she is broken! How lucky she is to have your obvious concern for her well being. Remember to take care of YOU.