Management of Alzheimer’s Disease based on use of various methods in combination. Unfortunately, management is not satisfactory and even progression of disease cannot be halted with medications that are available at present. Management of Alzheimer’s disease include, use of medications, providing balanced nutrition, exercise, providing supportive environment and also use of alternative medicine.
Drugs for management of Alzheimer’s disease:
Medications used for Alzheimer’s disease are for cognitive function and memory symptoms. Currently two types of drugs are used for managing Alzheimer’s disease, they are,
- Cholinesterase inhibitors improve cell-to-cell (nerve cells) communication by supplying acetylecholine which is natural neurotransmitter and is depleted in Alzheimer’s disease. They improve neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation or depression, although effects of these drugs are only modest at best. Side effects of cholinesterase inhibitors are common and include heart block, diarrhea, nausea, sleep disturbance etc. Commonly used cholinesterase inhibitors include donepezil (brand name Aricept), rivastigmine (brand name Exelon), galantamine (brand name Razadyne) etc.
- Memantine is another drug used for Alzheimer’s disease that also improve symptoms by improving cell-to-cell communication. This drug can be combined with cholinesterase inhibitors. Side effects of memantine include headache, dizziness, constipation etc.
- Sometimes other medications are also used for management of Alzheimer’s disease. These include antidepressants, sleep medications, antianxiety drugs etc.
Proper nutrition for Alzheimer’s disease:
It is common among patients with Alzheimer’s disease to forget to eat, drink adequate fluid, and similar problems, which may result in constipation, dehydration and malnourishment etc. To prevent such problems it is important to provide high calorie shakes and smoothies, protein powder etc. Feeding the patient in time with proper nutrients is essential. Patient also need to provide adequate fluids in the form of water, juice. Avoid various food supplements available as medical foods for Alzheimer’s disease, as they are not approved by authorities.
Exercise for Alzheimer’s disease:
For maintaining general physical fitness, exercise is important among patients of Alzheimer’s disease, the same way exercise is important for all of us. A good exercise routine should be followed.
Provide safe and supportive environment for Alzheimer’s disease:
The family members and caregivers should provide a safe and supportive environment for Alzheimer’s disease patient. Establish routine habits which can be easier to remember for the patient. This are part of treatment plan. Various common sense measures can be of great help for patients of Alzheimer’s disease, such as
- Keep keys, wallet, mobiles and other valuables at same place at home.
- If possible ask doctor to use single daily dose medications.
- Remove excess furniture and other unnecessary things from home
- Fix handrails in bathroom and staircases
- Reduce number of mirrors in your home as patient may not recognize his/her own image and get frightened.
- Use calendar or diary for keeping track of daily schedules.
Alternative medicine in management of Alzheimer’s disease:
There are number of herbal preparations, vitamin and other supplements promoted to be useful in management of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is no clear indication that these preparations are helpful in Alzheimer’s disease. There is no strong evidence about these preparations to be helpful in preventing progression of Alzheimer’s disease or improving symptoms. Some of such preparations have been studies scientifically and include, omega-3 fatty acids, ginkgo biloba, curcumin, vitamin E etc. Except vitamin E, no other preparation have shown to have any benefit in Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have shown that vitamin E given 2000 international units per day can slow down progression of Alzheimer’s disease to some extent. But the results are mixed. Studies are also being done to find out if 2000 international units of vitamin E per day is safe. More studies are required for using vitamin E routinely for Alzheimer’s disease.
Image courtesy of [franky242] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net