Dementia is unfortunately an incurable disease. However, with the right care, its progression can be slowed down. Medication and therapy are the best course of action to treat dementia. When caring for your loved one who has dementia, it’s wise to understand the treatment they will be undergoing to better help and relate to them.
Within the brain, there is a chemical known as Acetylcholine. A healthy level of this chemical regulates the communication between nerve cells in the brain. Those with Alzheimer’s have low levels of this chemical as well as a loss of nerves that respond to this chemical. Cholinesterase inhibitors are used to slow down the loss of this chemical by preventing an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase from breaking the chemical down.
The medication names for this are Donepezil, which is used to treat more severe Alzheimer’s, and Galantamine and Rivastigmine which are used to treat milder cases. Rivastigmine is also given to those who claim to hallucinate. These medications have also been used to help with Lewy Bodies disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s with vascular dementia. Taking these helps improve memory, reduce anxiety, and improves daily activities. All are administered by a pill.
NMDA Receptor Antagonists
This is another type of medicine that can be administered. Known as Namenda, this is given to those who have an excess of glutamate in their brain. An excess of the production of glutamate is present in those with Alzheimer’s. These chemical damages nerve cells in the brain. Memantine is the active ingredient in NMDA and will prevent an excess of glutamate production. This is given to those who are not able to take cholinesterase inhibitors. The side effects of taking this medication include headaches, constipation, and dizziness but this only occurs at the beginning of the course and wears away over time. Memantine is given to those with severe or moderate Alzheimer’s. Taking this medication helps slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s and stops disorientation. It also improves the ability to manage daily activities.
If you are looking for other non-medicated forms of therapy to aid your loved ones, cognitive stimulation therapy is a good start. It helps improve memory and cognitive skills, such as analytical skills and speech, by taking part in group activities and exercises. Cognitive rehabilitation is also another technique used where you work with an occupational therapist to help achieve a goal like simple everyday tasks. This form of therapy uses the working part of their brain to help the parts that are not working. It is extremely beneficial especially during the early stages as it helps them cope with dementia better.
The first step to truly caring for our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s is understanding the disease and its treatments. That way we can help the people that we love to better comprehend and adjust to their new life, and we can also rest easy knowing that medication and therapy can help them through it. Aston Gardens At The Courtyards is dedicated to helping those with cognitive loss. With our SHINE® Memory Care program. you can be assured that your loved one is well taken care of and receiving the treatment they need. Feel free to contact us to find out more about our programs.