Alzheimer disease is a slowly progressive brain disorder characterized by memory impairment, resulting in loss of ability to think, remember, and learn.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But drug and non-drug treatments may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time. The goals of Alzheimer’s disease treatment are to:
- Slow the progression of brain cell failure
- Manage behavioral symptoms
- Provide support for both the patient with Alzheimer’s disease and their family or other caregivers.
Non-drug treatment involves analyzing the behavior, identifying what might trigger it, and designing an approach to change one’s environment or caregiver reaction to behavior.
For example, excessive noise can exacerbate agitation in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Simply create a quieter environment can eliminate the behavior. Likewise, when caregivers become angry in response to a difficult behavior, it is usually only upset individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and increase the behavior’s frequency.
If the non-drug treatments do not seem to manage alzheimer’s symptoms, medications may be prescribed for controlling the symptoms. This treatment method aims to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms by regulating the chemicals that transmit messages among the brain’s nerve cells.
In many cases, they may help maintain thinking, memory and speaking skills and may help with certain behavioral problems. However, the effects of these drugs do not last long, because they do not change the underlying disease process, which continues. Their effectiveness may last for only a few months or a few years.
For people with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease, medicines like donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), or galantamine (Reminyl) may help prevent some alzheimer’s symptoms from becoming worse for a limited time. If you have moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, memantine (Namenda) may be prescribed to treat the symptoms.
All of these drugs have possible side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, muscle cramps, and loss of appetite. So, it is important to follow a doctor’s instructions when taking any of these medications.