The latest Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The condition is currently the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Even though deaths from other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped in excess of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is likewise shocking, with more than 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though we’ve yet to find relief from Alzheimer’s disease, there are a couple of distinct types of treatment options which can help ease several of the more predominant symptoms. In the event your senior loved one has been identified as having Alzheimer’s, here are a few options the doctor may recommend:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound essential for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can offer some assistance through the mild to moderate phases of Alzheimer’s for some patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, however, to keep in mind that benefits are likely to be limited at best. “The best case scenario is that the patient’s memory and cognitive function may improve slightly to what it was six months to a year ago – it’s not going to turn back time,” he points out. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: For the moderate to severe periods of the disease, the physician may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes a different approach in contrast to cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn can help regain limited memory function. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan together with a cholinesterase inhibitor when the disease progresses.
Determining the effectiveness of these treatments takes persistence, as the two take 4 – 6 weeks before results will be realized. And, it’s necessary to examine the advantages versus any negative side effects, including confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a decreased heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the most effective strategies to support those with Alzheimer’s disease to live life to the fullest is through engaging the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and can help with the varied struggles of dementia. Call Heaven at Home Senior Care at (866) 381-0500 or contact us online for additional details on our highly trained, compassionate Alzheimer’s in home care in Flower Mound and surrounding areas.