Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Living With Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease, also referred to as AD, is a degenerative neural disease most commonly affecting older people. The disease is named for the German doctor Alois Alzheimer who is credited as being the first person to give a description of the disease. It is characterized by deteriorating mental faculties and capacity which get progressively worse until it leads to death. This disease is also known as the most common form of dementia. Dementia is loss of cognitive ability in problem solving, language, memory and attention.

There is currently no Alzheimer’s disease treatment that eventually leads to curing a patient of the disease. The available Alzheimer’s disease treatment simply treats the symptoms of the disease. The aim of treatment is to slow its progression as well as manage symptoms that arise as a result of the disease such as depression, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, sleep disturbances, and confusion. Treatment generally aims at improving the quality of life.

Alzheimer’s disease treatment will often take a multi-method approach, including both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical methods. Non-pharmaceutical methods will include psychosocial treatments as well as care giving. Psychosocial treatment methods include behavioral interventions, psychotherapy, validation therapy, reminiscence therapy and cognitive retraining among others.

Care giving is a very important part of Alzheimer’s disease treatment. This is because of the progressive nature of the disease which leaves the patient unable to take care of himself/herself.

Medications are also a very significant part of Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Two categories of drugs are used to treat the disease and these are NMDA (N-methyl d-aspartate) receptor antagonists and cholinesterase inhibitors. A total of 5 drugs, 1NMDA receptor antagonist and 4 cholinesterase inhibitors have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The NMDA receptor antagonist works by inhibiting excess stimulation of glutamate receptors. If the glutamate receptors are over stimulated a condition referred to as excitotoxicity occurs, which causes cell death, one of the causes of AD.

Cholinesterase inhibitors work by preventing the breakdown of the brain chemical acetylcholine which is necessary for learning and memory. If the breakdown of acetylcholine is slowed down, then there is more of this chemical neurotransmitter in the brain which will aid in the formation of new memories.

The specific course of Alzheimer’s disease treatment will depend on a number of factors. These factors include the patient’s age, medical history, general state of health, how far the disease has progressed, the projected progression of the disease and the patient’s tolerance and response to the different medications and therapies. Another factor that may come into play is the doctor’s preference or opinion as to the best course of treatment. A patient and his primary caregiver may also influence the Alzheimer’s disease treatment.