Nov 7, 2011


I would suggest you make it normal procedure to always ask the healthcare provider if the medicine they are prescribing will affect the Aricept, Exelon, or Razadyne.

By Cindy Keith
Alzheimer's Reading Room

An article printed in Medical News Today entitled “Many Alzheimer’s Patients Get Drugs With Opposing Effects” caught my eye and reminded me of just how important it is for caregivers to constantly be on alert for potential problems such as this.

The article talks about how one of the two categories of drugs we have available to give our loved ones with dementia, the cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne), will often be rendered useless when other meds are prescribed.

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Those other meds are, unfortunately, much to numerous to list here, but I will give you an idea of the categories and you can check on the computer (or with the pharmacist) to see if any of these meds are at odds with one of the dementia medications your loved one may be taking.

These drugs are classified as a type of “anticholinergic” drug which means they block the action of acetylcholine in the brain.

Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne are in a class of “cholinesterase inhibitors” which work by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine which helps more signals get to the nervous system. So, these two drugs will, in effect, cancel each other out and neither will have it’s intended therapeutic effect.

Anticholinergics include drugs in the following categories:
  • Antispasmodics such as Levsin, Donnatal, Bentyl
  • Bronchodilators such as Atrovent and Spiriva
  • Antiemetics such as Dramamine, Bonine and Antivert
  • Antiparkinson drugs such as Kemadrin, Artane, Cogentin
  • Sleep aides such as Sominex, Nytol, Unisom
  • Cough and cold preparations that contain diphenhydramine
  • Atropine which is found in some heart medications and eye drops
  • Urinary incontinence medications such as Ditropan, Toviaz, Vesicare and Detrol

I have only listed a few drugs in each category, but there are many, many more.

Your loved one’s healthcare provider may not remember the drug classifications, and since many elders with dementia have co-existing medical problems, many physicians will prescribe some of these medications in an effort to relieve symptoms of those health issues.

I would suggest you make it normal procedure to always ask the healthcare provider if the medicine they are prescribing will affect the Aricept, Exelon, or Razadyne, and even if they say it will not, double check with the pharmacist before you have the prescription filled.

Knowledge is power and you now have the power to help keep your loved one safer and healthier.

Cindy Keith, RN, BS, CDP has extensive experience working with Alzheimer's and dementia patients. As a nationally known speaker, Cindy regularly travels throughout the United States giving day-long seminars on the importance of facility staff training in all aspects of dementia care. Cindy is the author of Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia. She an be reached through M.I.N.D. in Memory Care

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room