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Taking Medications

It is important to keep up with the time and dosage of the medicine your loved one is taking. They may be taking other medications that are not a part of their Alzheimer's treatment. If you are the caregiver, explain to your loved one the importance of taking their medicine on time.

Your doctor needs to know about everything your loved one takes, even over-the-counter medications and supplements. You can either make a list of everything, or bring it at all doctor appointments.

Dosage and Side Effects

Doctors usually start patients off with a low drug dose of the prescribed and gradually increase the dosage based on how well your loved one tolerates it. If you notice an increase or decrease in motor skills or mental activity the doctor should be notified at once. While there are several medications available now to treat Alzheimer's, none of them can stop or reverse the disease.

Two kinds of medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors and Namenda.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

Cholinesterase inhibitors most commonly prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, but can be started as soon as Alzheimer's symptoms appear. These inhibitors include Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne.

Aricept prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine plays a key role in memory and learning. Higher levels in the brain help nerve cells communicate more efficiently.

Exelon prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine and butyrylcholine in the brain by blocking the activity of two different enzymes. This inhibitor also help nerve cells communicate more efficiently. Common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and weight loss.

Razadyne stimulates nicotinic receptors to release more acetylcholine in the brain. Razadyne is available in tablet and capsule form. Common side effects are vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and frequent bowel movements.

Namenda (memantine)

Namenda is prescribed to improve memory, attention, reason, language and the ability to perform simple tasks. It can be used alone or with other Alzheimer’s disease treatments. There is some evidence that individuals with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s who are taking a cholinesterase inhibitor might benefit by also taking Namenda.

The most common side effects are dizziness, headache, constipation, and confusion.

Although current medications cannot cure Alzheimer’s or stop it from progressing, they may help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time.

As with all medications, the amount of dosage can be increased or decreased according to the patients needs, but only done through a prescription from the physician.

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