Skip to main content

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent cause of dementia, characterized by progressive neurodegenerative changes leading to memory impairment, cognitive decline, and altered behavior. Its incidence is higher in older adults, making it a central concern in post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings.

Management of Alzheimer’s disease involves a multifaceted approach. Currently, pharmacological interventions like cholinesterase inhibitors (e.g., donepezil, rivastigmine) and memantine target neurotransmitter imbalances to stabilize or slow cognitive decline. These medications can offer modest improvements or stabilization in some patients, but they do not alter the disease's fundamental progression. Regular monitoring for side effects, including gastrointestinal symptoms or cardiac effects, is essential.

Equally significant is the non-pharmacological management of Alzheimer’s disease. Structured routines, environmental modifications, cognitive stimulation, and physical activity can potentially enhance quality of life and slow functional decline. Management of responsive behaviors might necessitate behavioral interventions and, occasionally, pharmacotherapy. However, antipsychotic use should be approached with caution given the potential for serious side effects and modest efficacy.

In PALTC settings, a collaborative care model, involving physicians, nurses, therapists, and caregivers, is essential to address the comprehensive needs of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Communication, education, and support for families and caregivers, who often bear significant emotional and logistical burdens, are crucial components of care.