Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment
Alzheimer disease: Diagnosis and treatment – the earlier the better.
The course of Alzheimer disease may be influenced by pharmacological treatment. A range of outcomes may be seen from improvement to stopping the worsening of symptoms and delay progression of the disease. Alzheimer disease is a progressive disease of the brain leading to loss of nerve cells. The loss of everyday competence – or the ability to cope with basic everyday activities – does not, however, occur from one day to the next. It is an insidious, gradual process and once lost, the abilities cannot be regained. Therefore early diagnosis and promptly instituted treatment are of immense importance. The earlier a treatment begins, the more skills are still present and may be preserved. For this reason, anxiety or feelings of shame – no matter how understandable they may be – must not stand in the way of dealing openly with the diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, talk to friends and neighbors about your new situation. Alzheimer disease is no reason to hide oneself away. Quite the opposite: the more people know about the disease, the more understanding, helping and encouraging they can be. However, since there is as yet no cure for Alzheimer disease, one needs to be realistic about the expectations regarding the success of any treatment. The drugs available today may slow down the course of the disease, but, over time, the condition will nevertheless worsen. The earlier a treatment is initiated, the more time the patient can gain in an independent, self-determined state.
The long-term and consistent taking of the prescribed drugs is important. Often it takes a few weeks for an effect to be noticeable; and you should have patience and give the medication time to work. Remember that stopping progression is also a treatment benefit; one does not necessarily see improvement. The course of Alzheimer’s may differ widely from patient to patient, and similarly the effect of the drug treatment.
Non-pharmacological Treatments for Alzheimer disease
Research conducted over the past decade indicates that a healthy lifestyle and regular physical and mental activity may help delay the onset of Alzheimer disease. In addition, you will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity, good nutrition, and social interaction are important for keeping Alzheimer patients as functional as possible. Maintaining a calm, safe, structured environment also helps patients feel better and remain independent longer.
There are different non-pharmacological treatment options for Alzheimer patients available, e.g
- Cognitive Training
- Behavior therapy
- Music therapy
- Validation therapy
- Reality orientation training (ROT)
- Self-preservation therapy (SPT)
- Pet therapy
Another important aspect in the treatment of Alzheimer patients is a strong assistance for caregivers:
- information about causes and course of the disease
- information about the handling of the disease
- advice for special situations, e.g. incontinence and aggression
- legal and financial counseling
- addresses were they can get help
- possibilities to exchange experiences with others in the same situation
- time for themselves
- information about nursing home placement