Use of Cognitive Enhancement Medication in Persons with Alzheimer Disease Who Have a Family Caregiver: Results from the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health (REACH) Project

Steven H. Belle, Song Zhang, Sara J. Czaja, Robert Burns, Richard Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Aging populations show increased prevalence of cognitive impairment and dementia. Recent efficacy studies report on prescription medications and herbal preparations that affect cognitive functioning, but the prevalence and correlates of cognitive-enhancement (CE) medication use among community-dwelling older persons is not well studied. The authors examined the frequency and appropriateness of use, the importance of a family caregiver in medication decisions for dementia patients, and differences in access to medical care. Methods: REACH is a multisite feasibility study of several approaches to reducing the negative impacts of caregiving on those living with a family member with dementia. Data on medication use by care-recipients were collected at baseline and 1 year later. Results: At baseline, 31% of 1,222 care-recipients were using a CE medication. Factors independently related to CE use were age, education, functional status, and caregiver vigilance. Within 1 year, 14% started and 30% quit taking CE. Care-recipients more likely to be Starters had spouse-caregivers, more education, and fewer baseline ADL impairments. Quitters had more ADL deficits at baseline and became less able to perform ADL at follow-up than those who continued on CE. Conclusions: CE medication use among dementia patients with a family caregiver is relatively common, though there is substantial geographic variability. Our findings are mixed with respect to appropriate use of CE medications, suggesting areas for physician education. Our data indicate the importance of the caregiver in CE medication use and suggest that there may be disparities in access to healthcare among people with cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-257
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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