More research needed on medication management in dementia

July 25, 2014, University of East Anglia

Family carers of people with dementia need more help with medication management according to a new report involving the University of East Anglia, which was led by the University of Aston.

Researchers interviewed family members who care for loved ones with dementia to find out more about the problems they face.

Themes which emerged included medication use and the practicalities of administering drugs, as well as communication problems and a heavy burden of responsibility.

It is hoped that findings will help shape future research on the challenges faced by , and lead to better help from healthcare professionals.

Dr Chris Fox, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "It is really important to listen to who are caring for people with dementia. They're on the front line in an incredibly difficult role and healthcare professionals can learn a lot from their experiences.

"Many medications have adverse side effects and other problems but little is known about the specific issues related to medication management. We held a focus group with nine family carers to find out about their concerns about medication management.

"For example we heard about how one laxative, which needs to be mixed with water, sets too quickly in a glass to be ingested by someone with dementia. This led to constipation in the patient – which may seem like a minor problem, but actually it entailed emotional and physical distress for both the person with dementia and their carer.

"We heard how male carers can find it difficult to discuss personal care issues, how medication management brings a heavy burden of responsibility, and that carers often silently struggle to cope.

"We also heard about the frustration caused by healthcare workers, pharmacists and clinicians who have little or no understanding about the real-life practicalities of caring for a loved one with dementia.

"What we want to do is design future research projects which focus on the real-world experiences and needs of people with dementia and their carers. This is the first step towards that.

"The prevalence of dementia is growing rapidly. 700,000 people currently live with dementia and it is predicted that this figure will double over the next 30 years. As the condition progresses, people with dementia are increasingly less able to care for themselves making the role of family carers especially important," he added.

The research was led by Aston University with collaborators including the NHS, and the Alzheimer's Society, the University of Edinburgh and University College London.

Dr Ian Maidment from Aston University said: "Family carers have a key role in supporting medication management particularly as progresses. We need to understand the challenges that family carers face and how can help."

Explore further: New survey looks at caring for families of dementia patients

More information: "Perspectives of carers on medication management in dementia: lessons from collaboratively developing a research proposal." Fiona Poland, Sarah Mapes, Hilary Pinnock, Cornelius Katona, Susanne Sorensen, Chris Fox and Ian D Maidment. BMC Research Notes 2014, 7:463  DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-463

Related Stories

New survey looks at caring for families of dementia patients

April 23, 2014
Placing a family member with dementia in residential care is a difficult decision in a carer's life, which is why a new QUT study is looking to uncover what factors can make the transition easier.

Dementia patients need urgent support after diagnosis

November 1, 2012
There is an urgent need for support from outside the family after diagnosis of dementia according to a study led by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire.

Patients with advanced co-existing illnesses and their carers face uphill struggle

July 14, 2014
Patients in their last year of life with co-existing illnesses struggle to cope with a bewildering array of services and treatments, which are often poorly coordinated and lack any continuity of care, indicates an analysis ...

Caring communication: Toolkit to help people with dementia goes online

July 11, 2013
DemTalk, an award-winning toolkit designed by Newcastle University experts to help those coping with the condition, has gone online.

Undernutrition a major problem for people with dementia

February 12, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A new report, released today, highlights that undernutrition is a major problem among people with dementia, and stresses the importance of recognising nutrition as a potential key factor in the wellbeing ...

Research shows people with dementia need better support services

April 8, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—People diagnosed with dementia in Norfolk and Suffolk need better access to support services according to a new report from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Recommended for you

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss very limited

January 17, 2018
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A joint ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's

January 5, 2018
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease - and hence that blocking its spread ...

Molecular mechanism behind HIV-associated dementia revealed

January 5, 2018
For the first time, scientists have identified and inhibited a molecular process that can lead to neurodegeneration in patients with HIV, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Communications.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.