Vera Resnick-Weisz, DHom Med (Lic), IHM. Classical Homoeopathy. Local and online homoeopathic treatment available
Lately I was consulted regarding increased forgetfulness in a 90 year old woman. I asked for a list of her medications, and found that she was on TWO (!) antidepressants, blood pressure meds, a drug commonly prescribed for forgetfulness (it works – everyone forgets to check whether the drug is having any effect), and the crowning glory – statins prescribed this year. At age 90. Current presenting symptoms: forgetfulness and confusion, and swollen legs. The family will now being asking some questions, and making a nuisance of themselves in their mother’s care home. Which is exactly as it should be.
Although there is much altruism and dedication within the public medical system, all too often we have to gird our loins, build up our courage in whatever way we can, and make nuisances of ourselves. We and our loved ones are the people who will suffer if we don’t – not the prescribers, the clinics or the centres for care of the elderly.
Over the last few years I’ve noticed an increase in prescriptions of statins for the elderly here in Israel. The debate regarding their usefulness rages over the internet, with studies quoted pointing to benefits and other studies pointing to the risks. A 1997 study published in the Lancet interestingly showed that “In people older than 85 years, high total cholesterol concentrations are associated with longevity owing to lower mortality from cancer and infection. ” Most studies have not been done on the elderly, and most studies on the statin drug group and treatment of cholesterol are industry-sponsored.
Some side effects are very commonly experienced by those taking the drugs, such as muscle pain, stomach issues, general discomfort and disorientation. Some side effects, including muscle breakdown and loss of feeling in the legs or arms, may be irreversible. And although not all agree about statin usefulness in the elderly, and whether that usefulness outweighs the side effects, most agree that statin use increases the risk of type-two diabetes.
Perhaps the most insidious side effect however, especially where the elderly are concerned, is forgetfulness and confusion. This can easily lead to misdiagnoses of dementia and alzheimers, and the real cause can become obscured by more prescriptions and drugging.
As with many prescriptions – here we see the value of the second opinion. And when you go to the doctor for that second opinion, ask if they would prescribe the drug for their elderly mother or grandmother…
So if you’ve been prescribed a drug – any drug – read the Patient Information Leaflet in the package, and ignore the expressions “rare” and “1 in 1000”. Because it could be very unpleasant if that “1” turns out to be you or someone you care about who is receiving this drug.