Dementia/Alzheimer: Medications

February 4, 2010 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Once the diagnosis of dementia/Alzheimer’s is made, treatment must be started quickly. Remember you might be able to prevent the disease from progressing, but you can not bring back what has been lost. Medications are very important as well as a plan of activities for the patient, which will be discussed at a later date. This article will concentrate on the medications available. These medications must be discussed with your physician as to which ones he prefers your loved one to be on. Dementia causes healthy brain tissue to become unhealthy and this will cause the memory and thinking ability of the person to worsen. Don’t allow yourself to believe that dementia is a normal part of brain aging, it is not. Patients afflicted with this disease will have trouble doing tasks they have done their whole life, like getting dressed in the morning and making themselves breakfast. Normal aging of the brain is forgetting where you put the car keys, but you will remember where you put them later on. The dementia patient is no longer interested in conversation or the ability to solve through problems. They might lose interest in their grandchildren and might even develop problems expressing themselves. Remember there is no cure, as yet, but there are medications that might improve the quality of life of these patients.

There are medications used that will help in improving the cognition of patients. They do not work on all people, and in fortunate patients can slow the progression of the disease. These are called the memory pills. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which in critical in cognition and memory. It is important to have drugs that increase the concentration of acetylcholine in the brain. These medications fall into a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors. Their generic names are donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine. These medications inhibit acetylcholine from breaking down and therefore you have more acetylcholine in the brain. All three medications start at low doses and can be increased if needed. Generally, Donepezil is taken once daily at bedtime. Galantamine and rivastigmine are usually given twice daily and doses can be adjusted according to side effects. Rivastigime is also available in patch form, which should be applied to different areas to prevent skin irritation. It should be applied to the back, chest, or upper arm. The patch is helpful for patients that are suffering from side effects such as nausea and vomiting. The patch will lessen these side effects. Although these medications are considered memory pills, you may not notice a significant increase in memory, but you might notice an increase in the ability of the patient to care for themselves. This will make the life of the caregiver easier.

Mementine, another drug available, works by a different mechanism. This medication prevents over stimulation of certain receptors in the brain, which will eventually make the disease worse. This medication is used for moderate to severe stages of dementia. The initial dose of Mementine is 5mg daily and dose can be increased slowly up to 10mg twice daily. Can be used in addition to the other dementia drugs discussed.

The above medications are your main memory pills. There are other medications that can be used to help with the behavioral problems associated with this illness. These medications will be discussed in a future article.


Entry filed under: Alzheimer, Dementia. Tags: .

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