Whilst there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are some medications and treatments that help improve some of the symptoms the most common type of dementia:
These are used to help nerve cells communicate with each other and are only prescribed by specialists, including psychiatrists or neurologist. The main AChe inhibitors are Donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and mid-stage. Whilst there is little difference in each inhibitors’ effectiveness, each can cause different side affects including loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea. Side effects generally get better within two weeks of starting the medication.
This medication works by blocking the effects of the chemical glutamate. It can be used for those living with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. For those who cannot tolerate inhibitors, this is a suitable alternative. It can also be taken with inhibitors for those with severe Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine does however cause side effects, including headaches, constipation and dizziness. These side effects are generally short lived.
There are other treatments and activities that are helpful to those living with dementia. These can be activities and treatments you can do with your loved one or they can do with their live-in carer.
Cognitive rehabilitation – working with a trained professional and a family member or friend, it is an approach based on setting and achieving personal goals. For example, completing an everyday task, like loading the washing machine, or making a bed. The focus of cognitive rehabilitation is getting the parts of your brain working that are not.
Reminiscence and life history therapy – this involves talking about events and times from your past. Reminiscence and life story work brings together objects from childhood to present day that have positive memories for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Examples include photos and keepsakes, and music therapy is a very powerful reminiscence tool. There is strong evidence that this type of therapy boosts mood, builds self-esteem and improves well-being.
Cognitive stimulation therapy – these are activities and exercises designed to improve problem-solving and memory.