Is Alzheimer's curable?
Posted: 9/24/2020 8:00 AM by
It is extremely stressful for individuals and families after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Most of us are aware of Alzheimer's at a high level, and have a general understanding of what this disease does to the brain.
But, along with the information we already know, most of us still have many questions. Chief among them: Is Alzheimer's curable?
You're feeling a lot of stress and emotion after learning of such a dire diagnosis, and that's completely understandable. The short answer to the question is, sadly, no. Alzheimer's disease is not curable.
But, here is some information to help you understand the changes that are coming. Because knowledge is power -- especially in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
What to expect when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
There is no way to cure or stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. This unfortunate reality can be dizzying, and can make you feel a loss of total control. First of all, don't beat yourself up about the emotions and feelings you have right now. They are all completely understandable. This is a life-altering diagnosis for your entire family!
And, while there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are some treatments that can address some of its symptoms, including:
Memory Loss & Confusion
Brain cells die and connections are permanently lost due to Alzheimer's disease. So while there are no medications that can cure or reverse this damage, the FDA has approved two types of medication to lessen or stabilize the damage.
Changes in behavior can be some of the most traumatic changes caused by Alzheimer's disease. These changes often include irritability, anxiety and depression. While there are no treatments that can stop the brain changes that lead to these issues, there are some things you can avoid that have been shown to exacerbate them, including environmental changes (eg. changes to the home), medications and some medical conditions.
Talk to a doctor to determine whether any of these could be affecting your loved one and if so, what you may be able to do in order to lessen their impact.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Although doctors and scientists don't exactly understand the reasons why, those who are living with Alzheimer's often experience disruption to their sleep cycles and/or quality of sleep. In particular, sleep changes can exacerabate some of the behavior issues noted above.
Poor sleep quantity and quality can also lead to or impact other serious health conditions, so any steps that can be taken to improve sleep in your loved one can be very beneficial. These steps can include:
> Sticking to a sleep schedule. Avoid daytime naps and ensure your loved one goes to bed and wakes up at consistent times.
> Gain early exposure to sunlight. Getting outside in the sunlight as soon as possible after waking can help reset circadium rhythms and ensure a better night's sleep.
> Encourage activity. Exercise has been proven to improve sleep -- just be sure to avoid any exercise within a few hours before bedtime.
> Ensure proper lighting. Nightlights and other elements of security can keep your loved one calm and content at bedtime.
> Only use the bed for sleep. Reading and watching television in bed can make it more difficult to sleep.
Be sure to speak with your loved one's doctor
Some supplements, vitamins and alternative treatments have shown promise in helping with symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease, but are not approved by the FDA. Before considering any treatment, be sure to talk to your loved one's doctor.
The unique needs of a loved one with Alzheimer's can be overwhelming. And as the disease progresses, those needs will continue to change. For insight into the stages of dementia, and how you can help your loved one, download our Dementia Caregiver's Guide.
Our home health professionals can provide the care your loved one needs.
And if you need extra help caring for a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer's, contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location.