Alzheimer’s Drugs and Medication

Modern drugs can help sooth agitation, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness, and may also help boost participation in daily activities. Newer medications are also becoming available that can improve or preserve thinking skills, at least temporarily.

Please note: Regular reassessment is required while you are on any of these medications. This helps doctors determine if the medicines are being tolerated without troublesome side effects. These regular visits are also to make sure the patient is responding to the medication appropriately.

It is important to note that consumption of some nutritional supplements or medications can have serious side effects or interfere with other prescribed medications. Please consult with your doctor before using any nutritional supplements or medications.

Alzheimers and Aspirin

Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

By reducing or eliminating as many of the risk factors as possible, it should be possible to greatly reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Studies on the results of various treatments have been mixed and more research is needed. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment for Alzheimer’s (even for over-the-counter treatments), as some of these may even be harmful in certain circumstances.
When diagnosed and treated for Alzheimer’s, you will need to have regular follow-up visits with your health care team.

Alzheimer’s – Driving a Car

Alzheimer’s can affect driving ability in a number of ways including:

    Finding your way around
    Remembering which way to turn
    Judging distance from other cars and objects
    Judging speed of other cars
    Reaction time
    Hand-eye coordination

The issues of driving ability and safety can be very difficult ones, both practically and emotionally, for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and their families. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s does not necessarily mean that a person must cease driving immediately. However, any changes in a person’s ability to drive will indicate a need for this to be considered.

Most of us are unaware of just how complicated a process driving is. We simply take the activity for granted. Alzheimer’s can cause loss of memory, limited concentration, loss of sight, and a range of other problems. This will eventually affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Some people may recognize their declining abilities, others may not. Doctors will often recommend that a person should stop driving or they may refuse to approve a driver’s license renewal, particularly if they have been alerted to any problems.

The Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease

Many, but not all, people facing the onset of Alzheimer’s are aware that something is wrong. The diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s can come as somewhat of a relief, as they now know what is causing the problem. Alzheimer’s affects people in different ways and each person will find their own approach to managing with the changes which occur.

There are some good reasons to tell the person with dementia about the diagnosis: Early intervention can enhance quality of life. Knowing about the condition can allow for planning for the future. Access to information, support and new treatments are helped when the person knows about their condition. Knowing about the condition allows for an honest and open discussion of the experience of dementia between family and friends.

Being diagnosed with dementia means that there are a number of matters to consider in planning for the future. If you are still working you will need to consider how dementia affects your working life and start thinking about future changes which may be needed. You may have already noticed the effects of dementia on your work. Some of the changes might include:

Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease

While most cases of Alzheimer’s Disease are not directly caused by a gene, there are some identified genetic links. For a fuller discussion of the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, see the risk factors pages. There are genetic tests for these genes, but they are typically only necessary in cases where there is a family history of younger onset dementia.

Younger onset Alzheimer’s disease (onset before age 65) is known to be caused by at least three genes:

APP (amyloid precursor protein) gene
Presenilin 1 gene
Presenilin 2 gene

There are genetic tests for these genes, but they are typically only necessary in cases where there is a family history of younger onset dementia. The E4 sub-type of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene increases the risk of developing late onset Alzheimer’s disease, but does not cause the disease. It is important to emphasize that while the ApoE4 variant may increase risk of developing late onset Alzheimer’s disease, having the ApoE4 gene does not mean that a person will develop the disease.

Brain Scans in Alheimer’s Testing

Brain scans are sometimes used in the diagnosis of dementia. The most commonly used brain scans are :

    Computerized Tomography (CT)
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

CT and MRI scans both generate excellent images of the internal structure and condition of the brain. PET scans can be used to monitor brain activity but are not typically used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
While CT, MRI and PET scans can detect important changes associated with dementia, a diagnosis cannot be based solely on a brain scan. Sometimes brain scans will reveal no significant changes in the brain.

A Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner is a specialized form of X-ray machine. Unlike an ordinary X-ray machine, which sends a single X-ray beam though the body, a CT scanner simultaneously sends several X-ray beams from different angles to produce highly detailed, three dimensional images of the internal structure of the brain.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans use magnetic and radio waves, instead of X-rays, to provide very clear and detailed images of brain or other internal organs. MRI scans provide static three dimensional images of brain structure. Specialized MRI scans can also be used to monitor brain activity in areas of the brain where speech, sensation, memory and similar functions occur.

Memory Testing Alzheimer’s

Doctors often use a range of tests to assess memory, problem solving skills, attention span, coordination, and abstract thinking abilities of a person. There are many different types of neuropsychological tests that can be used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and these can help doctors determine the type of dementia a person may have, and to measure the disease’s progression over time.

Additionally, these tests can provide a thorough description of the behavioral symptoms so that they can be appropriately managed and monitored. The tests are also used to evaluate the effectiveness of the medications prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Common tests include

Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE)

Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive (ADAS-Cog)

The MMSE is the most commonly used test and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Patients may be tested a number of times over a longer time period (such as every 6 months) to determine the rate of decline in performance over time.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

At this time, there is no single test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease. Doctors use a variety of assessments and examinations to make a final diagnosis, Including Memory testing, Brain scans and Laboratory & genetic testing.

At each stage of the Alzheimer’s Disease, there are symptoms common to most sufferers. The symptoms commonly seen in each stage are summarized below, however, it is important to realize that there may be some overlap among the stages. In addition, every Alzheimer’s sufferer may not experience all of the symptoms at each stage.

The symptoms for each Alzheimer’s stage – mild, moderate, and severe – are:

Mild Symptoms

    Confusion and memory loss.
    Disorientation; getting lost in familiar surroundings.
    Problems with routine tasks.
    Changes in personality and judgment.

      Moderate Symptoms

        Difficulty with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing.
        Anxiety, suspiciousness, agitation, and withdrawal.
        Sleep disturbances.
        Wandering, pacing.
        Difficulty recognizing family and friends.

      Severe Symptoms

        Loss of speech.
        Loss of appetite; weight loss.