Alzheimer’s is a devastating disorder that gradually results in memory impairment, disorganized thoughts, and poor reasoning. Over time, these cognitive impairments become so severe that there is a gradual decline in the individual’s usual level of functioning.
Although all individuals have some degree of memory loss as part of aging, these cognitive changes generally do not interfere with level of function. In Alzheimer’s, the memory loss is much faster and associated with severe impairment in cognition. The disease progresses relentlessly and most individuals become incapable of independently looking after themselves. During the later stages of the disorder, depression, paranoia and delusions often accompany the illness and usually persists for long periods.
Today we have no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are a few treatments available to alleviate some symptoms that are causing suffering.
The management of Alzheimer's consists of use of medications and non-medications based treatments. The two different class of medications that have been approved by the FDA for treating Alzheimer’s include choline esterase inhibitors like Tacrine (Aricept) and partial glutamate antagonists. However, both class of drugs only work during early dementia and do not slow rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, there has been a surge in alternative care for patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.