The most recent Alzheimer’s data is sobering. The illness has become the 6th leading cause of death, overtaking both breast cancer and prostate cancer together. Even though deaths from other chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular illnesses, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped more than 100%. The toll the disease takes on family caregivers is equally shocking, with more than 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of care for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though we have yet to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct kinds of treatment options which can help lessen some of the more prevalent symptoms. If your parent has been identified as having Alzheimer’s, the following are two options the physician may recommend:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound essential for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can provide some benefits during the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s for a lot of patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director for the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, 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 phases associated with the disease, the doctor may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternate strategy in comparison to the cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn might help regain limited memory function. Physicians will often add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor when the disease advances.
Identifying the effectiveness of these treatments calls for persistence, as the two take four to six weeks before results may be realized. And, it is necessary to examine the benefits versus any negative side effects, which can feature confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best ways to help 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 manage the varied concerns of dementia. Contact JFS Care, the highly skilled Burbank home health care experts, for additional details on our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for older adults. Serving Burbank and the surrounding area, click here to find out if our services are available in your area.