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Use of unproven therapies by people with Alzheimer's disease

Use of unproven therapies by people with Alzheimer's disease

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 43(7): 747-750

OBJECTIVE: To describe the use of unproven therapies for Alzheimer's disease. DESIGN: Descriptive survey using a written questionnaire. PARTICIPANTS: 101 primary caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease who attended Alzheimer's disease support group meetings. RESULTS: Fifty-five percent of caregivers reported that they had tried at least one alternative therapy to improve the patient's memory. Twenty percent of caregivers tried three or more unproven therapies, Vitamins were used most frequently (84%), and health foods (27%), herbal medicines (11%), "smart pills" (9%), and home remedies (7%) were also tried. Most caregivers reported trying the therapies in the early stage of the illness and did not notice significant improvement in the patient's memory. Twenty-five percent of caregivers had tried unproven therapies for behavior problems. There was no correlation between the use of alternative therapies and the sex of the caregiver, age of the caregiver, level of caregiver frustration, presence of problem behaviors, or perceived level of physician support. CONCLUSIONS: The use of unproven therapies by people with early Alzheimer's disease is common and cannot be predicted by characteristics of the primary caregiver. Although this use may be understandable, it exposes vulnerable people to possible side effects, increased costs, and possible exploitation. Health care workers should actively inquire about the use of alternative therapies, and explore the reasons behind their use, so that they can better understand and meet the needs of their patients and their caregivers.

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Accession: 009702816

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 7602024

DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb07043.x

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