Will discontinuing my mother's antidepressants accelerate her Alzheimer's?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 20, 2016
Boots asked...

My mother is almost 100 years old and has Alzheimer's. She has lived in a nursing home for the past 4 years. She has been on Aricept and Namenda for the last 10 and 7 years respectively. She was depressed when she lost her ability to live by herself and I asked her dcotor to giver her Lexapro to help her with the adjustment.Her doctor now wants to take both medications out and because he thinks she doesn't profit from them anymore. My concern and question is- will it make her regress more than what she is now? She is hard of hearing and will seldom initiate conversation but she answers questions with a simple answer when asked. I use to walk her 3 times down the hallway 6 months ago but she is now unable to ambulate that far anymore. I do not want to accelerate her dementia, then she will totally be gone. Please help.

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

I am not sure if you are asking about removing Lexapro, Aricept or Namenda. If your mother is still able to provide some care for herself, e.g., eating independently, stopping Aricept and Namenda may result in a loss of this ability. Her speech may also deteriorate. Your mother may get depressed if Lexapro is stopped, but her functioning may not be affected. If your mother has no adverse effects with these medications and is still functioning independently, I do not see any reason for stopping them.