Researchers: Alzheimer's drugs could delay nursing home entry

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Treating dementia patients with cholinesterase inhibitors may help delay placement into nursing homes, according to new research.

ChE-Is, also known by names such as Aricept, Excelon and Razadyne, provide improved quality of life while helping preserve personal and societal resources, say researchers from the University of South Florida's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute. ChE-Is are designed to increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger involved in memory and thought processing, according to Alzheimer's disease experts.

Researchers examined Florida Medicaid program records for dementia patients 60 and older and found that those taking the drug were placed in a nursing home more than three months later than those not taking ChE-Is. Acknowledging that the Alzheimer's medications can be quite expensive, lead author for the study Marion Becker of FMHI noted that the "cost of the therapy can be off-set by the financial benefits that come with nursing home placement delay."

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders.