Top Medications for Alzheimer’s and How They Work
The latest Alzheimer’s statistics are sobering. The disease is now the 6th leading cause of death, rising above both breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And though deaths from many other chronic conditions, like cardiovascular disease, are decreasing, those from Alzheimer’s have increased upwards of 100%. The toll the illness takes on family caregivers is likewise shocking, with more than 16 million Americans delivering over 18 billion hours of care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Though we’ve yet to find an end to Alzheimer’s disease, there are two top medications for Alzheimer’s that can help minimize some of the more predominant symptoms. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are a couple of options the doctor may recommend:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: By blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine, a compound required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can provide some benefits during 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 bear in mind that benefits will likely to be limited 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: For the moderate to severe phases associated with the disease, a doctor may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes a different approach versus the cholinesterase inhibitors, preventing the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn often helps improve limited memory function. Health professionals often add memantine to a patient’s care plan coupled with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease progresses.
Identifying the effectiveness of these treatments calls for persistence, as the two take 4 – 6 weeks before benefits are realized. And, it is imperative to consider the benefits compared to any unwanted side effects, which may include confusion and constipation in memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a decreased heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.
One of the best techniques to help individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is through engaging the services of a specially trained caregiver who understands and can help take care of the varied struggles of dementia. Contact Hired Hands Homecare’s at home caregivers in Marin and the surrounding areas to learn more about our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s care services for older adults. You can reach us any time at (866) 940-4343.