Did you know there are over six million people in the United States who are currently living with Alzheimer's disease? While dramatically more common in the elderly, it can affect adults of any age group. And while that number may seem high, statistics show it is growing and that by the year 2050, as many as 12.7 million people age 65 and older will be suffering from the disease.
So, what happens if someone you love is one of the millions who is living with the disease? What does treatment look like? Let’s take a look at how Alzheimer’s is commonly treated in the elderly.
Understand There is No Cure
The important thing to understand about treatment for Alzheimer's is that it's about managing the symptoms. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but different treatments can help to alter the progression of it. It can take some trial and error to figure out what works best, and different treatments may be needed at different times. The goal of any treatment is to improve the person’s quality of life.
Medication is Used for Cognitive Symptoms
One line of treatment is to use medication for the cognitive symptoms that go along with Alzheimer's disease. The ones most typically used are Memantine (Namenda) and Cholinesterase inhibitors. However, just this year a new drug was approved by the FDA called aducanumab (Aduhelm) which targets the underlying cause of the disease. This is the first medication to do so, and the FDA has acknowledged that by approving the drug, so they will be able to study it more in-depth.
Lifestyle Changes Will Be Necessary
Another step will involve a variety of lifestyle changes. These changes will vary by person, as they will depend on how far along the disease has progressed and how it is affecting them. Some of the common changes can include:
- Looking after the person's finances for them
- Doing their grocery shopping and meal preparation
- Creating a daily schedule they can refer to
- Not allowing them to drive
- Handling their medication
- Making the house safe for them
- Helping with memory exercises
- Making sure they have a mobile phone with them to call for help if needed
There can be many other changes that may be necessary – this is just a small glimpse.
Consider an Assisted Living Facility
If the person suffering from the disease is an elderly parent, it may get to the point where living on their own becomes too dangerous for their well-being. At this point, an assisted living facility can be a good option since it provides care and much-needed services. You will have peace of mind knowing they aren’t alone should they need help. You can search for one that offers memory care services, skilled nursing, therapy and other services. You can check out options like McKnight Place, a facility for assisted living in St. Louis, MO.
Treating Alzheimer’s is no easy task and is typically a multi-pronged approach that may change with time as the disease progresses. Being open to various options will help ensure the person gets the best care possible.