Senior woman checking label on medication

Learn how the two most common Alzheimer’s drugs work.

The most recent Alzheimer’s statistics are worrying. The illness has become the sixth leading cause of death, overtaking both breast cancer and prostate cancer put together. And while deaths from several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, are declining, those from Alzheimer’s have jumped in excess of 100%. The toll the disease takes on family caregivers is equally staggering, with more than 16 million Americans delivering over 18 billion hours of care for senior loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though we’ve yet to realize a cure, there are two distinct kinds of Alzheimer’s treatment options that can help minimize a few of the more predominant symptoms. If your senior loved one is diagnosed with dementia, the following are a few options your physician may recommend:

  1. Cholinesterase inhibitors: By hindering the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical required for memory, attention, learning and muscle activity, these treatments can offer some advantage in 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, warns however, to be aware that benefits will 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 explains. Included in this class of medications are galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon).
  2. Memantine: For the moderate to severe phases associated with the disease, the physician may prescribe memantine (Namenda) which takes an alternative strategy in contrast to cholinesterase inhibitors, avoiding the overstimulation of glutamate NMDA receptors which in turn can help improve limited memory function. Medical doctors often add memantine to a patient’s treatment plan in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor as the disease progresses.

Identifying the effectiveness of these treatments takes persistence, as the two take 4 – 6 weeks before results may be realized. And, it’s critical to look at the advantages versus any adverse side effects, which can feature confusion and constipation for memantine, and nausea, vomiting and a low heart rate with cholinesterase inhibitors.

One of the best ways to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease live life to the fullest is simply by employing the services of a specially skilled caregiver who understands and can help manage the assorted concerns of dementia. Get in touch with Atlanta Home Care Partners online or call us at (404) 228-0103 for more information about how our highly trained, compassionate care team can provide your family with the Atlanta dementia help services it deserves.