The latest Alzheimer’s data is sobering. The disease has become the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer together. And though deaths from many other chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped in excess of 100%. The toll the condition takes on family caregivers is likewise astonishing, with more than 16 million Americans delivering over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Even though we’ve yet to realize an end to Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct types of treatment options that may help lessen some of the more predominant symptoms. If your senior loved one was identified as having Alzheimer’s, there are two options the physician may propose:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound essential for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can provide some benefits with the mild to moderate phases of Alzheimer’s for some patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director for the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, however, to be aware that outcomes are likely to 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 states. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: Within the moderate to severe stages of the disease, the doctor may recommend memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternate strategy compared to the cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn might help regain limited memory functionality. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan coupled with a cholinesterase inhibitor when the disease advances.
Determining the effectiveness of these treatments takes patience, as each take between 4 – 6 weeks before results may be realized. And, it is critical to look at the advantages versus any negative side effects, which might include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a reduced heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best strategies to aid people who have Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through employing the services of a specially qualified caregiver who understands and will help manage the assorted concerns of dementia. Contact Midnight Sun Home Care, experts in the professional home care Anchorage, AK families trust, for more information on our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for seniors; and click here to discover if our Alaska memory care services are available in your area.