Director, Center for Integrative Medicine, Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Edwards received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. For the past 12 years, she has been teaching complementary and alternative medicine courses at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She earned a Masters of Medical Education degree from John Carroll University/Case Western Reserve University in 2002, and completed the Harvard Macy Physician as Teacher Fellowship at the Harvard School of Education in 1998.

Dr. Edwards provides Integrative Medicine consultations at the Center for Integrative Medicine, as well as supervises a growing staff of complementary care providers. She also sees patients at the Cleveland Clinic Independence Family Health Center, where she maintains a small primary care practice.

Her clinical interests include nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness, as well as mind-body therapies, and spirituality and healing.

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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