If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you know firsthand the difficulties of living with this devastating condition as either a patient or caregiver. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are steps you can take to slow the progression of the disease and lessen some of the symptoms to increase your quality of life.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological condition that destroys the brain’s memory center and other mental functions. Symptoms begin with confusion or memory loss. Later, patients will experience extreme personality changes and will not be able to recognize friends and family members.
Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to die and is the leading cause of dementia (an umbrella term for various brain disorders that lead to a decline memory, brain function, and the loss of social skills.)
What Are the Treatment Options for Alzheimer’s?
Currently, there are several drugs on the market that can temporarily reduce memory loss and other cognitive impairments due to Alzheimer’s:
- Cholinesterase Inhibitors – These drugs boost communication between brain cells by introducing a neurotransmitter that is normally depleted quickly by the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. These drugs can temporarily improve symptoms such as depression and agitation. These drugs are dispensed under the brand names Aricept, Razadyne, and Exelon.
- Memantine – This drug can be prescribed in conjunction with cholinesterase inhibitors and works by stabilizing the amount of glutamate in the brain, a chemical necessary for learning and memory.
Doctors can also prescribe antidepressants, sleep aids, and anti-anxiety medication to reduce these common symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients. In addition, various studies are underway to develop new therapies to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s in its tracks and even prevent the disease with the development of a vaccine.
What Are Non-Medical Steps I Can Take to Treat Alzheimer’s?
It’s essential to create a safe, supportive living environment for Alzheimer’s patients. Setting up routine habits that reduce demands on memory tasks can make day-to-day life much simpler.
- Place valuable such as keys, wallets, purses, and phones in a designated location to keep them from being misplaced.
- Streamline financial responsibilities by setting up automatic withdrawals and direct deposits.
- Ask the doctor about once-a-day dosing for medications.
- Enable location services on the patient’s mobile phone so that you can track their location if they become lost or confused.
- Schedule doctor appointments for the same day of the week at the same of day if possible.
- Track daily schedules with a white board or large desk calendar and check off tasks as completed.
- Remove clutter, unneeded furniture, and loose throw rugs that present a falling hazard.
- Install handrails in the bathroom and on stairways.
- Prominently display photos of loved ones to aid in recognition.
- Ensure the patient’s shoes are comfortable and provide maximum traction.
- Remove decorative mirrors that may confuse or frighten an Alzheimer’s patient.
Exercise is a great treatment option for Alzheimer’s patients. A daily walk can elevate mood, promote a good night’s sleep, and keep joints limber. Offering proper nutrition is vital to someone with Alzheimer’s since he or she may lose interest in eating or forget how to prepare a meal. Supplement meals with high-calorie, nutritious shakes or smoothies to ensure the patient is getting enough hydration in addition to vitamins and minerals.
If you believe you or a loved one may be exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease, make an appointment today with one of the board-certified neurologists of Complete Neurological Care. Our team specializes in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions in our convenient NYC, Long Island, and New Jersey locations.