Alzheimer Dementia Medications: What Works?

Learn about the different types of medications used to treat Alzheimer's disease, their effectiveness in slowing the progression of the disease, and the potential side effects. Be informed and discuss any new symptoms or behaviors with your doctor.

Alzheimer Dementia Medications: What Works?
Alzheimer Dementia Medications

Alzheimer Dementia Medications can be confusing to the layperson.

Presently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The medications now available, to treat Alzheimer’, slow the progression of this disease.  For some the benefits of these medications may be so minimal that they go unnoticed.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved two classification of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Cholinesterase inhibitors

Are generally prescribed to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s.  Donepezil is the one medication from this classification. It is approved for treatment of severe dementia.

Scientists do not understand why cholinesterase inhibitors work on the brain to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine is a chemical in the brain. Scientists believe is important for an individual’s memory and thinking processes. As the disease progresses in Alzheimer’s... the brain actually produces decreasing amounts of cholinesterase.

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Cholinesterase inhibitors actually prevent the breakdown of this chemical in the brain. So over time, these medications lose their effectiveness.

N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists

This classification are generally prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe stages of Alzheimer’s.  Glutamate is a brain chemical is responsible for exciting the nerves. It is believed that there is an overproduction of this chemical in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. This chemical when produced in excessive amounts may lead to brain cell death.

This drug classification is to slow the progression and treat some of the symptoms of the disease. This classification of drug allows individuals with Alzheimer’s ... the ability to maintain a few functions of daily life. It may be effective a little longer, than they would without the medication.

At the present time, all medications that approved for Alzheimer’s are expensive. With all medications, they do have side effects. These medications do not deliver dramatic results. It has disappointed family members and patients. While these medications may slow the progression ... they do not stop the destruction of disease process from advancing.

Be aware... this is a condition that the health care professionals address new symptoms as they develop. Then treat accordingly.

It is also a healthcare consumer be prepared to discuss any new symptoms or behaviors. Understand doctors only treat symptoms, as they develop.  They do not have the ability to stop the progression of the disease. Make sure to take an up to date list of all medications … including herbal and nutritional supplements.  A list of allergies to medication and food, as well. Any medications that may have had an adverse effect on the person with Alzheimer’s ... is important information.

An individual with Alzheimer’s may develop a range of symptoms from... depression, anxiety, apathy to delusions, psychosis, aggressive behaviors and sleep disturbances. Each individual is different and responds to medications differently.

It is important to keep records of any medications and any reactions to medications... for future reference.  This is especially important because as individual ages... some may have an opposite response than was anticipated from the medication. This is a paradoxyl response.

An example may be ...a medication that is to calm an agitated person. The medication causes an increase the agitation, instead.

There are many investigational drugs being tested... in the areas of Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment. At the present time., many research areas are focused on stopping or decreasing  beta amyloid plaque buildup . This occurs in the Alzheimer’s disease process.

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