February 15, 2019
The latest Alzheimer’s data is worrying. The disease is currently the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And though deaths from other chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular illnesses, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have risen upwards of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is likewise staggering, with over 16 million Americans providing over 18 billion hours of care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
While we have yet to uncover a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are a couple of distinct forms of treatment options which can help decrease some of the more prevalent symptoms. If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, here are two options your physician may suggest:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound crucial for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can provide some assistance in the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s for many patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director for the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, however, to bear in mind that outcomes will 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: For the moderate to severe periods of the disease, the physician may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternative strategy in contrast to cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn may also help rebuild limited memory function. Health professionals often add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan along with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease advances.
Determining the effectiveness of these medications requires patience, as the two take four to six weeks before results will be realized. And, it is important to look at the advantages compared to any unwanted 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 assist people who have Alzheimer’s in St. Louis live life to the fullest is through employing the services of a specially skilled caregiver who understands and who will help take with the varied struggles of dementia. Contact us online or call (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 to learn more about our highly trained, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for seniors.