Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers Treatment

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Specific treatment for Alzheimer's disease includes medications that slow the progression of the disease, help relieve symptoms, and improve ability to carry out daily activities. Medications are started when symptoms interfere with activities of daily living. Unfortunately, the confusion and memory loss usually continues to worsen over time. Additional drug therapy addresses the more serious symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as agitation and hallucinations. Those with Alzheimer's disease also benefit from social services, good nutrition, exercise, and counseling for caregivers.

Treatment options for Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Medications for Alzheimer's disease:
    • Benefits of the medication must be weighed against risk for side effects.
    • These medications do not work for everyone.
    • Some of these medications work better when combined with other medication.
    • These medications do not cure the disease, but can
  • Medication to control hallucinations and agitation:
  • Medications to treat insomnia
  • Medications for controlling depression
  • Vitamin E and ginkgo supplements may be beneficial in some patients with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet:
  • Caprylidene (Axona)
    • A prescribed medical food that is metabolized into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies can be used by the brain for energy when its ability to process glucose is impaired.
    • Caprylidene comes as in a packet (powder) that is mixed into water
  • Family and other support services:
    • Home caregivers
    • Adult day care
    • Nursing home care

Medications used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:

For more information:

Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers Drugs

Medications used to treat Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Donepezil (Aricept)
    • This drug is called a cholinesterase inhibitor because it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline in the brain.
    • Low levels of acetyl choline in some regions of the brain are thought to be responsible for some Alzheimer's symptoms.
    • Donepezil is approved for use at all stages of the disease: mild, moderate, and severe
    • May improve mental function (such as memory) in some patients. Will not work in roughly half of all users.
    • Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and insomnia.
  • Tacrine (Cognex)
    • This drug is also a cholinesterase inhibitor because it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline in the brain.
    • May improve mental function (such as memory) in some patients.
    • Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, rash, abdominal pain, and indigestion.
    • Less commonly tacrine may cause liver damage so blood tests (liver profile) need to be monitored when taking the drug.
  • Memantine (Namenda, Axura)
    • Works by affecting the metabolism of glutamate in the brain. Glutamate plays a role in memory and learning. In Alzheimer's there is too much glutamate and memantine helps regulate glutamate levels in the brain.
    • Approved for use in moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.
    • May improve mental function (such as memory) in some patients.
    • May work better when used in combination with other Alzheimer's drugs such as donepezil, tacrine, rivastigmine, or galantamine.
    • Side effects include fatigue, confusion, dizziness, and headache.
  • Galantamine (Razadyne, Razadyne ER)
    • This drug is called a cholinesterase inhibitor because it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline in the brain.
    • Most effective when given at early stages of the disease.
    • May improve mental function (such as memory) in some patients.
    • Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and insomnia.
    • Rare deaths have been reported from heart attack and stroke.
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon, Exelon patch)
    • This drug is called a cholinesterase inhibitor because it blocks the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline in the brain.
    • Most effective when given at early stages of the disease.
    • May improve mental function (such as memory) in some patients.
    • Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and insomnia.
    • Rare deaths have been reported from heart attack and stroke.

Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of an Alzheimer's disease.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for dementia?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat Alzheimer's disease:

Continue to Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Loss of Memory due to Alzheimers References
  1. Doody RS. Refining treatment guidelines in Alzheimer's disease. Geriatrics. 2005 Jun;Suppl:14-20. [16025771]
  2. Kaduszkiewicz H, Zimmermann T, Beck-Bornholdt HP, van den Bussche H. Cholinesterase inhibitors for patients with Alzheimer's disease: systematic review of randomised clinical trials. BMJ. 2005 Aug 6;331(7512):321-7. [16081444]
  3. Morris JC. Mild cognitive impairment and preclinical Alzheimer's disease. Geriatrics. 2005 Jun;Suppl:9-14. [16025770]
  4. Panza F, D'Introno A, Colacicco AM, et al. Current epidemiology of mild cognitive impairment and other predementia syndromes. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005 Aug;13(8):633-44. [16085779]
  5. Potyk D. Treatments for Alzheimer disease. South Med J. 2005 Jun;98(6):628-35. [16004170]
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