Should we stop medications if my father is in the late severe stage of Alzheimer's?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is in the severe stage of Alzheimer's. He can no longer walk or communicate (he is physically able to speak, can say no, or resist things, but essentially unable to communicate) He can no longer take care of himself in anyway. He no longer recognizes his family. He recognizes my mother and his care giver, but only as people who are a constant part of his life. He is still taking Aricept and Namenda. As I understand it, these drugs only "mask the symptoms". If this is true and the symptoms are really no longer being masked, should my father still be taking these drugs?

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.

Aricept and Namenda are slowing down progression of dementia. If dementia progressed to a point where the patient does not have any remaining function left, these medications are no longer effective and may be stopped. However, I would recommend stopping them slowly, one at a time, first decreasing the doses before stopping them completely.