At this point in time, there exist no medicines that can actually prevent or cure the Alzheimer’s disease or which can reinstate the mental abilities of the person back to normal. There are medicines that can help some persons to perform properly by reducing their memory loss and thinking difficulties temporarily. Additional medicines might be required to deal with associated conditions like depression.
The improvement of the memory and day-to-day functioning
Medicines used to treat the Alzheimer’s disease include donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne). These medicines, specially approved for treating Alzheimer’s, are also known as cholinesterase inhibitors. Research has shown that people suffering from moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, who were using cholinesterase inhibitors, experienced an improvement in their thinking process and everyday functioning when they added memantine (Namenda) to their treatment.
In general, all of these medicines can help, on a provisional basis, to boost the memory and day-to-day functioning of Alzheimer’s patients. However, the extent of the improvement experienced will vary from person to person. While these medicines are not able to prevent the disease from degenerating, it may, on the other hand, help to slow down the mental decline.
The principal decision regarding the use of medicines for the treatment of the declining mental function caused by the Alzheimer’s disease is not about whether or not to try a particular medicine, but when to start and afterwards, when to end. The use of medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer’s can be started as soon as the disease is diagnosed. Nevertheless, medicines treatment does not ensure a significant change in the patient’s condition as the medicines do not work similarly for everyone. If a certain medicine is proved to be effective for the patient, its use is continued until its side effects overweighs the benefits derived from it or till the person stops responding to the medicine.
How to treat behavior problems
From time to time, medicines may be used for managing the behavior and symptoms that cause strain for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s and his caregivers. The use of medicines is only made when all other treatments have failed. For instance, a person suffering from insomnia is only given appropriate medicines when he has tried regular exercises and has avoid taking naps for a certain period of time.
When it concerns disruptive behaviors, the persons responsible for the patients are encouraged to try understanding the causes of the behaviors and to try their best to develop other means and ways to manage them whenever possible. Diverting the person’s attention, preventing situations that cause the patient to behave in this particular way and making use of good communication usually help to control disruptive behaviors.
Even though other approaches to manage these behaviors should always be tried at first, medicines, such as tranquilizers, can be used if the behavior is severely disruptive and may prove to be harmful for the patients or others. Tranquilizers can also be used when the person’s behavior becomes out of control and becomes unbearable for the caregiver. Moreover, when the person undergoes psychosis in addition to dementia, medicines can be used to calm him down. Psychosis induces the person to have false beliefs and to hallucinate.
How to treat depression
Nearly half of the persons suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease suffer from depression as well. It is especially usual during the initial stages of the disease, when the person becomes aware of the fact that he is losing his ability to think and act on his own. Though antidepressants will not retard the progression of the disease, they may help to alleviate the symptoms caused due to depression and thus enhance the patient’s quality of life.
Things to be taken into consideration
It is essential to closely monitor and regularly re-evaluate the person suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease during the period he is undergoing treatment with medicines. As the disease will progress and its symptoms change, the medicines that are being used will also need to be changed. If you are the one responsible for the Alzheimer’s patients, you should be very careful and alert for any adverse reaction or side effects that the new drugs might caused, for the new drugs used may further worsen the person’s ability to function correctly.
Prior to deciding to use medicines to manage behavior problems, try to find out what is really causing these behaviors. Having a better understanding of why the patient is behaving in a particular way will help you in better dealing with these behaviors. If you are able to develop other ways to deal with these behaviors instead of making use of medicines, you will be able to reduce the treatment with medicines and thus be able to diminish its side effects on the patient’s health.
Doctors do not know for real whether cholinesterase inhibitors truly help with behavior problems in people who suffer from the Alzheimer’s disease. Certain studies show that these medicines actually help, which implies less burden on the caregivers. If this burden is lessened, people suffering from Alzheimer’s may be able to live at home for a longer period of time. On the other hand, some studies claim that cholinesterase inhibitors do not contribute in controlling these behaviors.
Rivastigmine (Exelon) can currently be administered through a skin patch. The skin patch releases the medicine into the blood of the patient at a steady level. It may also reduce its side effects. Also when a person makes use of a skin patch, the caregivers are able to ascertain that the person is taking his medicines properly.
The development of new medicines
As research and studies on the causes and progression of the Alzheimer’s disease carry on, the search for more effective drugs continues. Researchers are pursuing their study on many medicines, including those used to treat other diseases, as probable treatments for Alzheimer’s. It will surely take some time before an effective medicine to treat the Alzheimer’s disease is found. The research for a vaccine to fight the Alzheimer’s disease remains ongoing.
Main Source: Yahoo Health