New research out of the United Kingdom has found that extending the use of the common Alzheimer's drug donepezil into the later stages of the disease could reduce a person's likelihood of being moved to a nursing home.
The research was gleaned and further analyzed from another study on donepezil that was conducted in 2012 where scientists studied 295 volunteers from 15 different memory care facilities across the UK. All volunteers had been diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer's and had been taking donepezil for the last three months and they were either living at home or with a family member.
Researchers compared these patients with people who were taken off the drug and found that people who continued using donepezil after the trial were able to stay at home for an average of one year longer.
"The new analysis builds on an earlier clinical trial that reported modest benefits on cognition and day-to-day activities when treatment with the drug donepezil was continued into the later stages of Alzheimer's," Simon Ridley, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said in a press release. "While the findings suggest that treatment with donepezil in people with advanced Alzheimer's could help them to stay at home for longer, the authors highlight that the results are exploratory and we know that the factors influencing a move to care are complex."
He continued, "With only a handful of symptomatic treatments available to treat Alzheimer's, it is vital that we better understand the most effective ways to use these drugs to help improve quality of life. Increased investment in dementia research is critical, both to improve the use of current symptomatic treatments and to find treatments that can halt the spread of damage through the brain."