Laurie Owen: Hi! I'm Laurie Owen from Home Instead Senior Care. In this video, myself and Dr. William Burke from the University of Nebraska Medical Center will discuss the medical treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease or other dementias and no treatment to reverse or halt its progression, there are medicines available that can help treat symptoms in some people.
Dr. William J. Burke: If Alzheimer's disease or another dementia is diagnosed early, treatment maybe available that can enable the person to carry out their daily activities and independent living for a longer period of time. It may also increase the time the patients can be cared for at home.
The approved medications for Alzheimer's disease help with symptoms like slowing the breakdown of a chemical, acetylcholine, in the brain that's important for memory and learning.
Response to these medications is highly variable. About a third of people will get a nice boost of the short-term function. For another third, the medication keeps them on a steady plain longer. For the remaining third, these medications do not seem to have much impact.
Healthcare providers may use other medications to help manage troubling symptoms including depression, sleeplessness, and behavioral problems such as agitation and aggression. Many of these latter symptoms are very important to manage, because they can make it difficult for the person with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia to be cared for at home.
Laurie Owen: Some non-drug approaches that help promote physical and emotional comfort may also be appropriate. Some ideas include monitoring for personal comfort such as pain, hunger, thirst, and temperature, avoiding being confrontational, redirecting the person's attention, and creating a calm environment.
Again, while there is no cure, there are many options to treat Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. Be sure to explore all of the various solutions.