If Alzheimer's medications slow the progression of Alzheimer's for 6-12 months in 50% of patients, what happens in the other 50%?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I notice the Alzheimer's Assoc. website states that medications currently slow the progression of the disease for 6-12 months in 50% of the patients. How about the other 50%? Has it ever been seen where the medications actually accelerate the progression of the disease?

Expert Answers

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.

Now that's a really logical question! In the other 50% there is generally no change noted in cognitive, physical or behavioral function. This may mean the diagnosis is a related disease and not 'true' Alzheimer's disease(AD) or, that the change is too insignificant to be measurable. Frequently, when a person with AD is taken off this group of medications, the symptoms of the disease become more obvious as the person appears to be at the level he/she would have been if the meds had never been given. It is a sort of plummet to a later stage. I have not heard of any of these meds actually accelerating the progression if they remain on them. Hope this is helpful.