Sleeping Pills May Lead to Dementia
Seniors who experience sleep troubles or chronic anxiety are often prescribed a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These include Valium, Xanax and Lunesta among many others. Although these products might alleviate the symptoms that they’re intended to treat, they can also increase an aging adult’s risk of dementia by as much as 50 percent. Recent research has shown that this is especially true for people who begin using benzodiazepines after the age of 65. Thus, there’s a strong reason to avoid taking these products whenever feasible alternatives exist.
The Causes Of Dementia
Despite diligent and ongoing research, scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of Alzheimer’s related dementia. What is known about dementia in general, however, is that it can sometimes be the result of medication toxicity. Benzodiazepines include other common medications for anxiety such as Klonopin and Ativan. While these products are specially formulated for short-term use such as for several weeks to just one month, many aging adults become heavily reliant upon them. In fact, most wind up taking them indefinitely.
Protecting Your Senior Family Member
The best way to protect your senior loved one from this elevated risk for dementia is by working with medical professionals who are more concerned with treating the underlying causes of anxiety and insomnia, than merely alleviating their symptoms. As an example, anxiety in old age could be the result of magnesium deficiency, which has recently become an all too common problem among this demographic. Decreases in overall food quality paired with changes in a senior adult’s ability to prepare or otherwise access fresh, home-cooked meals can make it difficult for an elderly person to get adequate supplies of this essential mineral. Working with a naturopath to establish a supplementation program or securing meal preparation services from a home care company, could resolve the anxiety by increasing magnesium intake and without exposing your family member to any undue risks.
It is also important to note that many seniors have multiple doctors and thus, it is vital for all practitioners on your elderly relative’s medical team to have a clear understanding of the products that are being used. Xanax, Valium, Lunesta, Klonopin and Ativan should never be prescribed by a senior’s doctor until this professional has a clear understanding of all other medications that the patient is taking. Moreover, these prescriptions must be part of a structured treatment plan so that seniors are only using them in a short-term capacity.
Alternative Strategies For Managing Insomnia And Anxiety
There are also many alternative strategies for managing anxiety and insomnia that should be pursued before turning to prescription drugs. These include stress management techniques such as tai chi, yoga and diaphragmatic breathing. Seniors can increase their physical activity levels, seek increased social engagement, alter their diets or use natural herbs to establish mood balance. Products like St. John’s Wort and Valerian Root are all-natural and capable of providing benefits that are similar to many drugs in the benzodiazepine class. Best of all, seniors can gain these benefits without necessarily increasing their dementia risk.Read more