There is currently no known treatment, medial or non-medical, that can reverse or cure Alzheimer’s. However, a combination of medications and non-drug approaches can aid in managing symptoms of the disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two drugs to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms, cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Although more research needs to be conducted to better understand how the drugs work, they are known for the following attributes: influencing brain chemical messaging systems, being effective on specific Alzheimer’s stages, and being ineffective for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Cholinesterase inhibitors are utilized in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. They are understood to help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine – a chemical important for brain functions such as thought, memory, and alertness. The most commonly prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors are Donepezil (Aricept), Galantamine (Razadyne), and Rivastigmine (Exelon). Memantine is prescribed in later stages to help regulate a brain chemical called glutamate, which effects memory and learning. Both drugs can be beneficial in managing symptoms, but they do carry potential risks and side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, confusion, and irritability. Also, these drugs will lose their effectiveness overtime as the disease progresses due to brain cell damage. It is important to have a knowledgeable healthcare provider to prescribe the most effective medications at the proper stages.
In addition to medication, there are several behavioral and environmental practices that can be very helpful for people with Alzheimer’s. Maintaining a consistent routine, a healthy diet, regular exercise, an active social life, and adjusting communication styles are all ways in which you can increase your loved one’s quality of life. A comfortable physical environment free of clutter, loud noises, and visual distractions such as mirrors and televisions will also aid in reducing external confusion. As a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient, it’s essential to remain flexible, open-minded, and empathetic as you adjust to the changes and challenges the disease brings.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care of Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.