The most up-to-date Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The disease has become the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast and prostate cancer together. And while deaths from several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are declining, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped more than 100%. The toll the disease takes on family caregivers is similarly staggering, with more than 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a member of the family with Alzheimer’s.
Although we’ve yet to find a cure for the disease, there are two distinct types of Alzheimer’s treatments which can help reduce a number of the more prevalent signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In the event a senior you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, listed below are two options the doctor may suggest:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription drugs can provide some success for the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s for some patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director for the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, warns however, to be aware that results are going 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 explains. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: In the moderate to severe stages of the disease, the doctor may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternative approach compared to the cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which often will help restore limited memory functionality. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s care plan alongside a cholinesterase inhibitor once the disease advances.
Determining the effectiveness of these treatments takes patience, as each takes 4 to 6 weeks before benefits is will be realized. And, it is crucial to weigh the benefits against any negative effects, which could include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a reduced heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best ways to help individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through employing the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and will help manage the assorted struggles of dementia. Contact Endeavor Home Care at 480-498-2324 for more information on our professional, compassionate Phoenix home care services and learn how we can help a family member with Alzheimer’s.