The most up-to-date Alzheimer’s data is sobering. The disease is currently the 6th leading cause of death, overtaking both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And while deaths from other chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular illnesses, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped in excess of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is likewise astonishing, with more than 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Even though we have yet to find an end to Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct forms of Alzheimer’s treatment options that can help decrease a number of the more predominant symptoms. In the event your parent is identified as having Alzheimer’s, here are a few options your doctor may suggest:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical essential for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can provide some advantage in the mild to moderate stages 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 be aware that benefits will likely be modest 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 explains. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: During the moderate to severe stages of the disease, the doctor may recommend memantine (Namenda), which takes a different approach than the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn often helps regain limited memory function. Doctors often add memantine to a patient’s care plan combined with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease progresses.
Identifying the effectiveness of these medications takes persistence, as the two take four to six weeks before benefits will be realized. And, it is crucial to consider the advantages compared to any unfavorable side effects, which might include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the most effective strategies to support people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease to live life to the fullest is by engaging the services of a specially qualified caregiver who understands and who will help seniors with Alzheimer’s treatment options. Contact Live Well at Home at 800-478-1209, providers of elder care in Sacramento and the surrounding areas, to learn more about our highly trained, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for seniors.