The latest Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The disease is now the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer put together. And even though deaths from other chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have increased in excess of 100%. The toll the disease takes on family caregivers is likewise astonishing, with well over 16 million Americans providing over 18 billion hours of care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Although we have yet to find a cure for the disease, there are a couple of distinct types of Alzheimer’s treatment options which can help ease several of the more prevalent symptoms. If your parent is identified as having Alzheimer’s, here are two options the doctor may propose:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound crucial for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can provide some assistance with the mild to moderate phases of Alzheimer’s for a lot of patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, however, to bear in mind that outcomes will likely be moderate 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 makes clear. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: For the moderate to severe periods associated with the disease, a doctor may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes a new strategy in comparison to cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn may also help improve limited memory functionality. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease advances.
Determining the effectiveness of these treatments takes persistence, as the two take 4 – 6 weeks before benefits may be realized. And, it is crucial to look at the advantages versus any unfavorable side effects, which may include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best strategies to assist individuals with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through engaging the services of a specially qualified caregiver who understands and will help manage the varied concerns of dementia. Email or call Harmony Home Health & Hospice , the experts in home health care in Ogden, Utah, at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE for more information about our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for older adults.