I am not a doctor and have no medical background so information I am sharing here is simply information I’ve found through research. That research may be flawed. I encourage you to do your own research and to consult medical professionals for your specific needs.
The unfortunate reality for Alzheimer’s is that there is no cure. There is a very good TED talk that is a little dated but nonetheless highlights how little attention this disease gets from the government and medical community when compared with Cancer.
Some key facts:
Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top ten causes of death in the US that has no cure nor way to slow the progression of the disease.
- 40 million people have Alzheimer’s world wide (will grow to 150M by 2050)
- You have almost a 1 in 2 chance of getting Alzheimer’s if you live to 85+
- In the US, we spend $200 billion; $1 of every $5 Medicare dollars is spent on Alzheimer’s care
Alzheimer’s research is lacking:
While we can lobby the government and charities to focus more on Alzheimer’s, the most immediate thing we can do for our loved ones is to create an environment that makes them comfortable and happy.
People with dementia (Alzheimer’s) may see reduced symptoms through 4 medications approved by the FDA.
Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s
Donepezil (Aricept®) [may be prescribed for severe Alzheimers as well],
Moderate to severe Alzheimer’s
Memantine (Namenda® and Namzaric®)
These drugs address symptoms but do not stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. Symptoms improved include memory and speaking abilities. They may also help manage behavioral shifts.
Each also has side effects including stomach aches and loss of appetite. Please research the specific side effects for each before speaking with your doctor so that you will be aware factor that knowledge into your discussion with the doctor. My mom already has a loss of appetite so the decision to risk one of these medications it tough.
As discussed in many of my other blog articles, a high priority for me is to create an environment for my mom that makes her comfortable and happy. The way to do this is to remove opportunities for frustration, add opportunities for their feeling of contribution and self-worth, and to support them with love and caring.
While I have shared some of the details of how I have done this for my mom, the reality is that your methods need to be tailored to the personality and condition of your loved one, the environment they live in, support from friends and family and financial capabilities.