The most up-to-date Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The illness has become the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer put together. And though deaths from several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are declining, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped in excess of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is similarly staggering, with more than 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Although we’ve yet to find an end to Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct kinds of treatment plans which can help reduce several of the more prevalent symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In the event your senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, here are two options your doctor may suggest:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these prescription medications can offer some advantage with 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 associated with the disease, the physician may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternative approach compared to the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn might help restore limited memory functionality. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s care plan along with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease advances.
Determining the effectiveness of these treatments takes patience, as each takes four to six weeks before benefits will be realized. And, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits against any negative side effects, which can include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a reduced heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best techniques to aid those 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. Get in touch with All Care at (541) 857-9195 to learn more about our professional, compassionate Medford senior services and how we can help a loved one with Alzheimer’s in your family. To learn more about all of the cities we serve in Oregon, please visit our Service Area page.