Dementia in the elderly is often accompanied by other conditions, including anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Dementia and anxiety may be due to Alzheimer’s disease, other disorders or medication side effects.
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Whether caused by Alzheimer’s or another condition, anxiety in elderly people with dementia can be frightening for the patient and difficult for family and caregivers to understand and deal with.
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Anxiolytics are a class of anti-anxiety medications used to treat anxiety in the elderly with dementia. Anxiolytics work by calming and relaxing the patient, and may be prescribed in conjunction with other medications to relieve anxiety symptoms or slow the progression of dementia.
Dementia Care Central, a website that provides information for caregivers of people with dementia, lists the following anti-anxiety anxiolytic medications used in the elderly with dementia: lorazepam, buspirone, clonazepam, oxazepam, diazepam and alprazolam.
Anxiolytics can produce side effects such as sleepiness, fainting, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion and difficulty balancing. High doses or interactions with alcohol or other drugs that depress brain function can cause a person to stop breathing.
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According to AARP, there are over 50 conditions that may be confused with dementia or may cause dementia. Before treating any symptoms such as anxiety, it is important to know the cause of the dementia.