Alzheimer’s Disease is complex, and it is unlikely that any one intervention will be found to delay, prevent, or cure it. However, research has shown that the following treatment strategies can help improve the quality of life for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, as well as provide support for his/her caregivers.
MEDICATIONS help maintain mental function:
Several different types of medications are used to treat memory loss, behavior changes, sleep problems, speaking skills, and help maintain thinking. These drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters (the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons). These medications won’t stop the disease, but they can slow down the progression of symptoms for a few months or even years.
- Antidepressantstreat irritability and mood disorders.
- Anxiolyticstreat anxiety, restlessness, verbally disruptive behavior, and resistance.
- Antipsychotic medicationstreat hallucinations, delusions, agitation, aggression, hostility and uncooperativeness.
[*The decision to use an antipsychotic drug needs to be considered with extreme caution. Research has shown that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of stroke and death in older adults with dementia.]
People with Alzheimer’s may forget to eat, lose interest in preparing meals or not eat a healthy combination of foods. They may also forget to drink enough, leading to dehydration and constipation.
- High-calorie, healthy shakes and smoothies-blend favorite fruits, veggies, yogurts, and add protein powders to supplement.
- Water, juice and other healthy beverages-encourage several glasses of fluids per day, avoid beverages with caffeine, which can increase restlessness, interfere with sleep and trigger frequent need to urinate.
- A diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables-heart-healthy choices support cognitive health.
- Omega-3 fatty acids– heart-healthy and supports cognitive health as well.
EXERCISE supports heart health, prevents cognitive decline, and improves mood:
Create a wellness plan that includes activities such as a daily 30-minute walk, 20 minutes on a stationary bike, chair aerobics, modified yoga, or exercise classes offered at your local senior center. Social engagement will make life more enjoyable and promote intellectual stimulation. Benefits include improved mood, healthy joints, muscles, and heart, more restful sleep, and prevention of constipation.
There is some evidence that sensory therapies such as music therapy and art therapy can improve Alzheimer’s patients’ mood, behavior, and day-to-day function. By stimulating the senses, these therapies may help trigger memory recall and enable Alzheimer’s patients to reconnect with the world around them.
As you can see, managing the behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease requires a multi-faceted approach. Along with the above strategies, adapting the living situation to the needs of a person with Alzheimer’s is an important part of any treatment plan. For someone with Alzheimer’s, establishing and strengthening routine habits and minimizing memory-demanding tasks can make life much easier.
And support is only a phone call away…contact Luba Services, Inc. today to inquire how we can help!
Click here to see our guide to making daily life easier for a family affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.