While there is currently no cure for dementia, a few medications are available that can help to lessen the symptoms many experience as memory loss progresses. In addition to personal care support, holistic therapies and adaptations to a person’s environment and routines, medication for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can help to improve a loved one’s quality of life. If your loved one is living with memory loss, pharmaceutical treatments may be a good idea.
Jimmie Fay Griffin, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Tallahassee, a memory care assisted living community in Tallahassee, Florida, weighs in on the topic: “Medication can do a lot to help seniors suffering from the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as loss of memory, confusion and behavioral changes. However, caregivers should be very careful to manage their loved one’s medication regimen. The common medications used to treat memory loss can cause troublesome side effects and could interact with other medications a person is taking. Caregivers should also talk with their loved one’s doctor to make sure they understand how best to manage their loved one’s treatment before they start any new medications.”
If your loved one has been prescribed medication to treat their dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms, the team at YourLife of Tallahassee can help you prepare to manage their treatment and care.
Common Dementia Medications
For now, the United States FDA has approved two kinds of drugs to help treat Alzheimer’s symptoms. These medications work by affecting certain chemicals in the brain to help lessen the symptoms caused by the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to die, which erases connections between cells and presents as a loss of cognitive functions like memory loss, confusion and problems with thinking and reasoning. By targeting the chemicals that help to carry messages between brain cells, doctors believe they can lessen or stabilize dementia symptoms for a limited time.
The two types of dementia medications include:
Cholinesterase inhibitors – Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne
This type of drug prevents the breakdown of a chemical important for memory and learning. They are often prescribed to help treat mild to moderate dementia. They delay or slow the worsening of symptoms by keeping chemicals needed for brain cell communication high.
Memantine – Namenda, Namzaric
This drug regulates the chemical responsible for information processing, storage and retrieval, helping patients perform daily tasks by improving memory, attention, reason and language skills. This is typically prescribed for those in the moderate to severe stages of memory loss. Sometimes, doctors may choose to prescribe a memantine treatment with a cholinesterase inhibitor to treat symptoms.
Possible Side Effects
Even though medications are designed to help or heal an illness or health condition, they carry the risk of causing other changes in the body. Always talk to your loved one’s doctor or pharmacist about what possible side effects could occur with the drug they prescribe, and pay attention for any changes in their health once they start taking the medication. In some cases, strong medications can cause serious side effects, so always call the doctor if you notice anything concerning.
Of the prescription medications approved for treating Alzheimer’s symptoms, possible side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
These side effects are not typically life threatening by themselves; however, they can diminish your loved one’s quality of life if left unacknowledged.
Helping You Take Care of Them
Beginning a new treatment for a loved one’s dementia can be a scary experience for caregivers. Not only do you have to manage their dosage and monitor when they take their pills, but you also need to be on the lookout for serious side effects and varied behavior. However, once your loved one has adjusted to their new treatment, the benefits of their medication will be worth it.
“We understand the immense responsibility caregivers take on when managing their loved one’s medical treatments,” says Griffin. “At YourLife™, our residents are observed by a team of medical and care professionals to ensure their greatest possible health – an advantage that at-home caregivers don’t have. It’s no wonder family caregivers often feel like so much pressure is placed on them for their loved one’s well-being.
“That’s why our community does whatever we can to educate and support family caregivers throughout their journeys. Our team is also happy to answer questions and discuss concerns about caring for someone with memory loss. So if you would like to talk to someone about managing your loved one’s medication and dementia treatments, reach out to YourLife of Tallahassee today. We’ll help you find the clarity you need to provide your best care.”
Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled
If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families.
We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only just the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more!