Whilst I don’t dispute the findings, I still feel the evidence of causation is missing.
What were these people being prescribed benzodiazepines for? Obviously, there must have been some sort of medical problem, even if not one conventionally associated with Alzheimer’s. But what if all it means is there has been a gap in our understanding of what the early symptoms might be, and it just so happens they are exactly the type of thing for which benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed?
I am by no means an expert in Alzheimer’s/dementia, but cannot help taking an interest, given that a friend was recently diagnosed. And I do know that anxiety and sleep disturbance are common. Both problems for which a prescription of benzos might be considered - even in patients not known or suspected of having Alzheimer’s. So I find it difficult to see how the study could effectively rule out patients with symptoms that might already be linked to Alzheimer’s, unless they limited it strictly to patients who were only prescribed benzos for purely muscular problems. Whilst that is a possible grounds for prescribing, I do not think it is the key reason, outside the MS population. So it is likely most patients had anxiety, or sleep disturbance, or both.
I am sure if you analyse a group of people with anxiety or sleep disorders, more of them will progress to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s within the next few years, than a control group without these symptoms. I’m not suggesting causation here either. Obviously it is possible to have anxiety or sleep disturbance in isolation, without it being a portent of Alzheimer’s. But in some cases, it may be an early sign. So that would explain why people being actively treated for anxiety or sleep disorders do have a significantly higher “risk” of Alzheimer’s. It’s not their treatment that is raising the risk, but that their symptom profile already places them in a higher risk category.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, I think you’ve made the right decision. As someone else has already said, quality of life NOW is important. No, it’s not the only consideration, and ultimately, everything is a weighing up of risks and benefits, but we don’t always have the luxury of saying no to things that may (not will) cause problems further down the line.
I dread to think what my poor liver and kidneys think of all the stuff that’s getting thrown at them. I fully expect them to rebel at some point. I won’t say I don’t worry about it, because I do. But on the other hand, none of us are going to live forever, no matter what we do about it, so I can only hope to strike the right balance of staying as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible. I went without symptom relief for a long time - not out of choice, but because I wasn’t diagnosed, so nobody, including me, realised I had settled for quite a poor quality of life, without ever considering it might not be “normal”.
Of course, once I realised it wasn’t normal to feel so bad, and that all my friends weren’t feeling the same, I understood at least some of it should be treated. Of course, things have moved on a bit since then (not in a good way), so I probably couldn’t make do without symptom relief now, even if I wanted to. In return for some relief, I have had to accept some risks, but I don’t want to go back to my own personal Dark Ages of living with untreated pain and accepting it as normal.