Dealing with Dementia: The Two Top Treatment Options
The most recent Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The condition has become the 6th leading cause of death, overtaking both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And though deaths from several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, are declining, those from Alzheimer’s have escalated more than 100%. The toll the condition takes on family caregivers with a loved one who is dealing with dementia is similarly shocking, with well over 16 million Americans supplying over 18 billion hours of caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Although we have yet to realize a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are two distinct forms of treatment options that can help alleviate some of the more prevalent symptoms. If your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the following are two options the physician may propose:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical essential for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can offer some advantage in the mild to moderate phases of Alzheimer’s for some patients. Dr. Zaldy Tan, medical director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, cautions, however, to keep in mind that benefits will 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 makes clear. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
- Memantine: Within the moderate to severe phases of the disease, a doctor may prescribe memantine (Namenda) that takes a different approach from the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn can help rebuild limited memory functionality. Doctors will frequently add memantine to a patient’s care plan coupled with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease advances.
Identifying the effectiveness of these treatments requires patience, as the two take four to six weeks before benefits will be realized. And, it’s necessary to consider the benefits versus any unfavorable side effects, which might include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a reduced heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the most effective ways to aid those dealing with dementia to live life to the fullest is by employing the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and who will help manage the varied concerns of dementia. Contact Hired Hands Homecare, providers of the elder care Walnut Creek, California and the surrounding area families trust the most, for more information regarding our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for seniors.