February 14, 2019 by
The most up-to-date Alzheimer’s data is sobering. The illness is currently the sixth leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer together. And while deaths from other chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular disease, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have escalated more than 100%. The toll the disease takes on family caregivers is similarly shocking, with more than 16 million Americans providing over 18 billion hours of care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
While we have yet to realize a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct kinds of treatment plans that can help reduce several of the more prevalent symptoms. If your senior loved one happens to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are two options your doctor may suggest:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can provide some benefits through 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, warns, however, to keep in mind that results are going to 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 points out. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: For the moderate to severe stages of the disease, the physician may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes a different strategy than the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn might help regain limited memory functionality. Health professionals often add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan along with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease progresses.
Identifying the effectiveness of these treatments takes persistence, as the two take four to six weeks before benefits will be realized. And, it is important to look at the benefits versus any negative side effects, which may include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the most effective techniques to help those with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through employing the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and can help manage the assorted concerns of dementia. Contact At Home Independent Living, offering the highest quality eldercare Syracuse, NY and the surrounding area have to offer, for more information regarding our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for older adults.