The primary goal of Alzheimer’s treatments are to not only improve the quality of life for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s, but also improve the quality of life for his/her family and/or caregiver(s). While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, there are a few generally accepted treatments may help a person living with Alzheimer’s.
- Pharmacological Treatment – While there are no cures for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, there are several medications that can be used to treat some of its symptoms. The types of medications that are often prescribed to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs (also called anxiolytics), anti-psychotic medications, sedatives, and sleep medications.
- Non-drug Treatment – Specific strategies that are recommended for managing some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
- Maintaining Safety – Probably the most important treatment of all for Alzheimer’s disease is to maintain the safety of the person suffering from the disease. You have to realize that the person will eventually forget how to do everyday activities that we all take for granted, such as eating, bathing, or turning off the stove. Provide good lighting; use night-lights where necessary. Lock up any hazardous materials that your loved one may be able to reach, such as cleaners, medicines and even soaps (yes, there have been people with AD that have tried to drink liquid hand soaps). Pick up some childproof outlet covers and use them to protect from electric shock.
- Labeling – Some of the simplest things in life can be extremely difficult for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the decline in their cognitive abilities, they often forget simple things, such as the name of common items, and even the names of people they love. One strategy that has helped thousands of Alzheimer’s sufferers is labeling common items to help that individual remember what things are called. For example, put a label reading “telephone” on the phone, put a label on the television that reads “television.” This can eliminate a lot of the frustration felt both by the individual with Alzheimer’s, and his/her family and/or caretakers.
- Posted, Routine Schedules – People suffering from Alzheimer’s handle the daily stressors in life much better if they can keep their schedule as routine as possible. Keeping a piece of paper posted with daily activities, such as “eat breakfast at 8:00 a.m., take your Prozac at 8:30 AM can be enormously helpful to the individual.
- Maintaining overall health – The overall health of the Alzheimer’s patient must be a top priority in order to help manage some of the symptoms. Proper diet and exercise and regular medical care can help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s from worsening. A diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated fat, can help improve memory.
- Family member support and education – Taking care of a person with Alzheimer’s can be tremendously challenging; emotionally, physically and financially. Family members and caregivers are subject to high levels of chronic stress, and burnout is a major factor in the inability to continue caring for a person with Alzheimer’s. However, when family members and caregivers are educated about the disease and are given proper support, the care of the person with Alzheimer’s is greatly improved. Thus, it is imperative that family members and caregivers acquire the skills they need to provide a safe, loving environment for the Alzheimer patient.