The most recent Alzheimer’s data is worrying. The disease has become the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And while deaths from several chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are declining, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped more than 100%. The toll the condition takes on family caregivers is similarly astonishing, with well over 16 million Americans delivering over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Although we’ve yet to uncover relief from dementia, there are two distinct kinds of Alzheimer’s disease treatment plans that can help minimize several of the more prevalent symptoms. In the event your parent happens to be identified as having Alzheimer’s, the following are a few options the doctor may propose:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can offer some assistance with 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 keep in mind that results are likely 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 periods associated with the disease, a doctor may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes a unique strategy versus the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn can help improve limited memory functionality. Doctors will often add memantine to a patient’s care plan coupled with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease progresses.
Identifying the effectiveness of these medications requires persistence, as each take 4 – 6 weeks before results will be realized. And, it’s necessary to weigh the benefits versus any negative side effects, which could involve confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a reduced heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best ways to aid those with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is by employing the services of a specially qualified caregiver who understands and will help take care of the varied struggles of dementia. Contact the care team at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care to discover more about our professional, compassionate Portage in home care services for seniors and how we can help your family. To learn more about all of the other areas we serve throughout southwest Michigan, please visit our Service Area page.