How to Help People With Alzheimer’s Disease

Nearly 4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including the late former president Ronald Reagan.[citation needed] It is the common type of dementia found in adults and the elderly.[citation needed] It has also become the third leading cause of death in late adulthood, with only heart disease and cancer responsible for more deaths.[citation needed]


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    Notice the symptoms. These usually begin with changes in memory, which may be rather mild at first but which become more severe over time, causing the person to become more and more forgetful about everyday tasks, such as remembering to turn off the stove. Eventually more dangerous forgetting occurs, such as taking extra doses of medication or leaving something cooking on the stove unattended. The person with this disorder repeats things in conversation, thoughts become disorganized and messages get garbled. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the ability to do simple calculations such as balancing a checkbook is lost, along with remembering how to do simple tasks such as bathing or getting dressed. It is a costly disease to care for a loved one who is slowly becoming a stranger.
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    Help the person afflicted get good medication. There is presently no cure, but in recent years several new medications have been developed that seem to slow the progress of the disease, and new research into the cause give hope that a cure may one day be a reality. One common treatment is to place the person on a drug such as Aricept, which blocks the breakdown of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter involved in the formation of memories.[citation needed] Other drugs can be taken to reduce the agitation that often accompanies the disease, helping to allay restlessness and hallucinations.
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    Consider herbal options in consultation with the patient’s doctor. There is some evidence that taking an herbal supplement, gingko biloba, may help the memory problems of some Alzheimer’s victims.
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    See if there are any clinical trials the patient can be a part of. Clinical trials are underway to test the effects of statins, drugs that lower cholesterol, on Alzheimer’s. A gene that is involved in cholesterol production is also a known risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s. People taking statins may have a lower than usual risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
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    Be available. Give of your time and care where you can.

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