Medicating the person with Alzheimer’s – Should we, or not?
Some Medications available for the person with Alzheimer’s and what they do?
Since Alzheimer’s disease is commonly a slow process, the disease affects people differently and therefore individuals respond to different treatments uniquely. Currently, there is no drug or treatment program that stops the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, for individuals who are in mild, and middle stages of the disease, certain drugs have proven successful.
The latest drugs for treating Alzheimer’s disease
Given orally, this medication is a reversible inhibitor of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. It is used to treat symptoms in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Our brains normally produce acetylcholine, a chemical thought to be important for learning and memory. People with Alzheimer’s disease have lower brain levels of acetylcholine. Aricept acts by decreasing the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme whose function is to break down acetylcholine. It is believed that by reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine, it will lead to an increase in the level of acetylcholine in the brain.
Given orally, this is another medication that inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Tacrine will not cure Alzheimer’s disease, and it will not stop the disease from getting worse. However, tacrine can improve thinking ability in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Another cholinesterase inhibitor given orally. This medication is used to treat loss of memory and thinking ability associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
This medication was formerly known as Reminyl. It was changed to razadyne on July 1st 2005. Razadyne is a competitive acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It has been shown to treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease successfully.
Approved by the FDA in October, 2003, this medication is given orally, and works different from the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It it thought that too much glutamate in the brain can cause cellular damage. Namenda works by blocking the effects of glutamate.
Clinical trials have shown that vitamin E slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by about seven months. Current clinical trials are underway to determine whether vitamin E will slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other clinical trials are underway to determine whether vitamin E and selenium supplements can help slow or prevent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The latest studies using Ginkgo Biloba extract from leaves has shown this chemical may be of some help with treating Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. However, there is no evidence that Ginkgo Biloba will cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there is some clinical evidence showing that Ginkgo Biloba may delay cognitive deficits or prevent dementia to a certain extent in older people.
Clinical trials have been conducted showing that estrogen therapy can protect the brain against damages caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These studies were originally conducted using estrogen on women for hormone replacement therapy. Positive response regarding Alzheimer’s disease prevention, was noted as a side effect. Current evidence has shown while estrogen therapy can help prevent the severity or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it will not slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease once it has already been diagnosed. Also, one study showed that women over the age of 65 who were receiving estrogen and progestin therapy, were at greater risk of dementia and greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Individuals may participate in current scientific clinical trials
People with Alzheimer’s disease may participate in scientific clinical trials. In order to qualify to participate in the studies, certain tests must be conducted. For more information about participating in current clinical studies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, one can find out more information by calling 1-800-272-3900. Or, contacting the Alzheimer’s Association online at : Trial Match
William Riopelle, MS PT, is a senior physical therapist with over twelve years experience working with people in the area of Home Health. His popular website provides more information, in downloadable audio format, for family and care providers on Alzheimer’s Disease: => [http://www.audiomedicalscience.com]
Besides the above medications which are directly related to the disease on the brain, your loved one may also need medications which help with their behavior and/or depression issues which can be a consequence of coping with the symptoms of this disease. Their personal physician is the best to decide which medication your loved one might need for their emotional issues.
If you have a loved one in the early stages of Alzheimer’s who still lives at home yet needs a gentle reminder to take their medication, the pill dispensers below might be just what you’re looking for!
Warning! Never rely on Pill dispensers entirely.
MedCenter (70265) 31 Day Pill Organizer with Reminder SystemNew GMS Med-e-lert – 28 Day Automatic Pill Dispenser,6 Alarms ,6 Rings, 1 Key with White Lid4 Alarm Pill Box w/ Vibration ReminderMedcenter Talking Alarm Clock And Medication ReminderElectrical Pill Box Dispenser with Talking Timer- Daily Medication Manager, Medport System 1. 4 Alarm