In addition to medications, other care and management strategies are applied to treat Alzheimer’s disease and to help improve life of patients, increase their confidence and make their daily activities easy and also to reduce the burden of caregivers and extend or hold the time of disease progression as long as possible. Management of disease helps to cure many of the disease-related conditions and reduces chances of complications.
Medical care is usually provided by primary care physician. The goal of the treatment is to increase and maintain quality of life, daily activities, cognitive abilities, mood and behaviour and foster safe environment for patients.
The decision about medication changes as the disease progresses. Various decision changes that occur over the disease progression are-
During the disease transitional time, a physician should work with patients and their families to help them understand following things-
Supportive care involves strengthening the routine habits and minimizing the memory based tasks. This will make the life of patient much easier. There are various ways by which one can care patient or prevent the disease conditions from worsening.
The following supportive steps can be taken to improve functional abilities and sense of well-being-
Regular exercise helps to prevent symptoms to a great extent for patients with Alzheimer’s in many ways-
Note- Patients with Alzheimer’s who have difficulty in walking can use stationary bikes and participate in chair exercises. Also, tracking bracelet should be worn by people with Alzheimer’s if they are walking or doing exercise alone without someone’s company.
Due to dementia and memory loss, people with Alzheimer’s often forget to eat and lose interest in eating food and face difficulty in swallowing too. They also forget to drink water and face problems like dehydration and constipation. These things lead to nutritional deficiency in the body of patients which may also worsen the disease condition.
So, a proper balanced nutritional diet should be given to fulfill nutritional need of the body which can also nourish the brain and helps in controlling disease symptoms over long time from becoming worse.
Various vitamin supplements, herbal mixtures are widely promoted that may improve cognitive health of Alzheimer’s patients and delay the disease progression. But, currently no evidence is available to prove the effectiveness of these alternative medicines to slow the cognitive decline process.
Various alternative treatments studied recently:-
Supplement may interfere with the medications taken for the disease. Therefore, a detailed discussion about safety and side effects is necessary before taking the supplement with Alzheimer’s medication to improve cognitive functions.
It is seen that after diagnosis, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s often live for many years but as this disease is progressive one, future planning helps reassure family and patient too. It is about discussing and recording future wishes and plans. At early stages of disease, one can make a plan by discussing with family and doctors for the time when he/she is not able to think and make plans. This involves use of-
As Alzheimer’s is a lifelong and life limiting condition, it affects multiple body functions at the severe stage or later stage of the disease progression. Palliative care support the patients with incurable illness so that they can live comfortably as much as possible till death. This care is provided at home, at hospital or a hospice. For patients ending their life, the care team fulfill all needs of patients and make them feel comfortable.
For further care and support, it is helpful to get in touch with a local or an international Alzheimer’s groups and society.
Besides medicational treatment, there are many non-medication based therapies which can help improve quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients and delay disease progression. The therapies are-
The drugs to cure and treat Alzheimer’s completely are not available till date but there are many other medications which may help in treating the symptoms and complications related to the disease. These medicines help in improving quality of life and disease progression. There are four Cholinesterase inhibitor approved by U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat symptoms of the disease-
Another drug Mematine (Namenda) is an NMDA receptor agonist which is used alone or in combination with cholinesterase inhibitor receptor to treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Scientists and researchers proposed various experimental therapies for Alzheimer’s. These therapies include- Estrogen therapy, Excess tau protein phosphorylation reversal therapy, Vitamin E therapy, free radicle scavenger therapy. The studied results are however mostly disappointing for them.
Numerous anti-amyloid therapies have been studied in the past 10 years to reduce amyloid fragments in the brain. These studies are as follows-
No phase III study of anti-amyloid therapies shows any result and satisfactory efficacy
This therapy delays or slows the onset of disease progression. As changes in the brain occur very early before the disease signs and symptoms are noticed, researchers say that starting this therapy at a presymptomatic stage is helpful in disease treatment and controlling the symptoms to a great extent.
Although, phase III trials for numerous possible disease-modifying therapies have been completed but they did not show any clear effectiveness and therefore couldn’t get an approval from the FDA.
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