With most aged people above the age of 65, forgetting where they have kept their keys, if they have had lunch or not or forgetting names and faces, is faced with a lot of concern from their wards and doctors. After all, these are not random acts of forgetfulness. Most of the time, they are signs of early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But not only in aged people, this disease of the brain, can also affect younger people in the age bracket of the 40s or 50s. Dementia is a form of a mental disorder, which affects reasoning, behaviour and memory. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of this dreaded disease. The following measures can be taken to treat Alzheimer’s though there is no known cure:
There are many herbs which slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, because of the compounds present in them which help the preservation of acetylcholine in the brain. Some well known ones are Sage, Brazil nut and Horsebalm, which help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. Horsebalm contains the compound carvacrol; Brazil nuts are the food source of Lecithin, which contains choline, which helps in the build up of acetylcholine. Sage, too, has properties which stop enzymes from breaking down acetylcholine.
This is the only treatment approved for all the stages of this disease, be it mild, severe or moderate. It is a Cholinesterase Inhibitor, which means that it stalls the breakdown of the chemical acetylcholine in the brain. This chemical is important in brain functions, especially memory. Aricept helps to increase the level of this chemical in the brain and can help the patients by slowing down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It is available in the form of tablets to swallow that dissolves in the mouth.
This drug is used in the treatment of moderate or severe forms of Alzheimer’s. It works by regulating the release of a brain chemical known as glutamate. This chemical plays a role in learning and memory and this drug plays a protective role, by regulating the production of this chemical in patients with severe or moderate cases of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, it can be more helpful in resolving mental faculties and performance of daily tasks.
Alpha- Tocopherol and Antidepressants:
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and selegiline, which is also used in treating Parkinson’s, may be helpful in this case too. An Alzheimer’s patient suffering from behavioural problems can benefit from certain anti-depressants like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil), can treat mood disorders or irritation, though they are not FDA approved.
Galantamine (Razadyne) and Rivastigmine (Exelon):
This is used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and can be taken as a pill or in the syrup form. But some studies suggest that it is not effective in MCI and does not help to curb the progression of MCI. Another drug which can be used to treat mild or moderate Alzheimer’s is Exelon, which can be taken as a pill, syrup or a skin patch. But this drug too, fails to control the progression of MCI.
In treating Alzheimer’s disease, more than the medications, what the patients need is care. When it comes to Alzheimer’s care, the patient’s family should concentrate on making the home safe for them, deciding on which member will be responsible for the long term care of the patient, whether they want to opt for care facilities or assisted living etc.