Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there is medical treatment which can help to slow down progression to improve your symptoms and the quality of your life.
Medical Treatment of Alzheimer's
There are various medications available for you which will initially be prescribed by your specialist. Your response to the medication will be assessed every 6 months by a full assessment including a MMSE score.
The main drugs are called acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors and there is a newer tablet (Reminyl) which works in a slightly different way:
- Aricept (Donepezil)
- Exelon (Rivastigmine)
- Ebixa (Memantine)
- Reminyl (Galantamine) .
The choice of medication will be adapted to your symptoms and sometimes they are used in combination. They will be started in the lowest possible dose to minimise the chance of you suffering from side effects.
According to NICE guidance in the UK, Memantine is used for moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease, whereas the others are for mild to moderately severe symptoms.
Specific medical treatment
Behavioural problems are common in Alzheimer's and may improve with improved communication, reinforcement of good behaviour, and avoidance of precipitants.
You may benefit from antidepressant or antipsychotic medication depending on your symptoms.
There are many factors which would help you in managing your symptoms in addition to medical treatment. These are:
- Avoiding alcohol & drugs if possible, and to have treatment for any other disease which may exacerbate confusion
- Exercise - there is evidence that regular exercise may lead to a slower decline in activities of daily living
- Speech therapy: will help you to maintain memory and communicate better
- Occupational therapy: will help to assess your capability of managing every day tasks alone. The therapist will help you make changes in your home if necessary. This will enable you to remain as autonomous as possible.
- Social support - there are lots of sources of support that you can access in the community
Alzheimer's can last between 1.5 to 15 years with gradually worsening symptoms.
Not only does the condition impact upon yourself, but also on your family or carers. It is important for you to work together with your family, GP and specialist in order for you to receive the best treatment and care.
For more information on the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease, please visit the Alzheimer's Society and National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) websites: