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The World Health Organization reports that more than 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. Even more staggering is the estimation that 10 million new diagnoses are made each year. Dementia, unfortunately, continues to have increased rates of diagnosis and incidence due to a rise in older adults throughout the globe.
While dementia, like Alzheimer’s Disease, does not have a cure, certain medications can slow the disease process down or help to combat health side effects that often accompany the disease. Research is also proving promising when it comes to early diagnosis, which can allow prescription medications to begin their work more quickly. If you have a loved one who has been recently diagnosed with dementia, or if your loved one has been living with the disease for years, it is never too early or late to learn more about the prescriptions commonly recommended by geriatricians and neurologists.
Donepezil, or Aricept®
Commonly prescribed for seniors with early to mid-stage of Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia, Donepezil roared on the market under the name Aricept® decades ago. This drug was one of the first ones to slow down the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain, which can lead to better nerve cell function.
This medication is one of the most commonly prescribed dementia medications and can be used with other dementia-related medicines without concern in most situations.
Rivastigmine, or Exelon®
In 2000, Exelon® came onto the dementia prescription market. It was (and continues to be) popular because it is a patch, which gives a continuous release of the medicine without the senior needing to take a pill. This intervention is especially helpful as anxiety or swallowing issues found in the middle stages of the disease can make taking a pill daily quite difficult for seniors living with dementia.
This medication works by adding acetylcholine to the brain and is typically prescribed in the middle or later stages of the disease. It works well with other medications, such as Aricept®, but does have significant gastrointestinal side effects for some seniors who take it.
Memantine, or Namenda®
Namenda® was one of the first medications that saw some success with seniors living with late stage dementia. The drug itself works because it regulates glutamate, a chemical that plays a role in memory and learning. Namenda® also came out with a once-daily formula in 2013, making it easier for seniors to take more consistently.
Typically, seniors who take Namenda® also take other dementia-specific medications unless side effects are troublesome.
Finally, another commonly prescribed medication for seniors in the late stage of dementia is Namzaric®. This medication can be sprinkled on food, which makes it easier to take and includes a combination of both Namenda® and Aricept®.
Fortunately, dementia research continues in earnest throughout the globe. While some research is targeted to find cures for the disease, scientists are also working hard to find new and improved medications that can increase the quality of life for seniors living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports at least five new medications are currently in various phases of clinical trials.
If you are confused about what comes next now that your senior loved one has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia, you don’t have to walk alone. The team at Oasis Senior Advisors Milwaukee has decades of experience working with clients just like you. We are here to listen to your situation and develop options that will help you have the peace of mind that your loved one is safe and cared for.
Call us today to get started. Our services are free, and we are here to advocate for you.