Did you know that there are nearly 15 million family members, friends, and neighbors who care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease? Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone by hearing what your fellow caregivers have to say. Sometimes, the best advice for family caregivers comes from those who have walked the path before you.
John Schall, CEO of CAN and Gustavo Alva, MD, DFAPA, a psychiatrist from Costa Mesa, California, introduce the video series.
John Schall, CAN:
Being a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is a job that more than 15 million Americans currently have. While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is frightening, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Millions of people across the country are walking in similar shoes. And we at Caregiver Action Network are here to help too.
Hi, I’m John Schall, CEO of Caregiver Action Network. We help family caregivers develop their capabilities and build their confidence by providing them with education and support. To help identify the needs of Alzheimer’s family caregivers and ways to help, we conducted a survey in partnership with Forest Laboratories.
The survey found that one of the biggest stressors for caregivers is related to communicating with the patient – nearly half said communication breakdown between themselves and their loved one greatly impacted their overall stress level.
Dr. Gustavo Alva, a psychiatrist who treats Alzheimer’s patients, counsels their caregivers and conducts research in this field, has seen many caregivers struggle with this communication breakdown.
Dr. Gustavo Alva:
Hi, I’m Dr. Alva. Being an Alzheimer’s disease caregiver is not easy. Every day, they are faced with incredible hurdles, tough decisions, and heightened stress.
As a doctor who sees Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers every day, it’s important to be aware that there are FDA-approved medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that can make a difference for both patients and caregivers. There is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s disease, and the medications available now will not change the course of the disease, but they may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms for a period of time.
There are two classes of Alzheimer’s disease medications that work in different ways in the brain to help slow symptom progression. One category is acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and includes three drugs: Aricept (donepezil), Exelon (rivastigmine) and Razadyne (galantamine). In general, these may be prescribed when a patient is in the mild to moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease. While no medications have been shown to treat specific symptoms, some symptoms patients may show in this stage include: forgetting recent events, greater difficulty performing complex tasks like paying bills and forgetting one’s own personal history.
Aricept 5 mg and 10 mg can be prescribed to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's. Aricept 10 mg and 23 mg can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's.
The other category of medication is called NMDA receptor antagonists. Namenda XR (memantine hydrochloride) is a medication of this type. As patients progress to the moderate and severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease, they start to show symptoms like increased confusion, inability to recall information like their address or phone number and difficulty remembering family and friends’ names. Patients in the moderate to severe stage may be prescribed combination therapy with Namenda XR plus an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (or AChEI). There is no evidence that Namenda XR or an AChEI prevents or slows the underlying disease process in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Namenda XR and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors have risks, so patients and caregivers should talk to their doctor about all treatment options regarding their benefit and potential side effects. The most common side effects associated with Namenda XR treatment are headache, diarrhea, and dizziness. This is not a complete list of side effects. Additional Important Risk Information about Namenda XR follows this introduction.
As a caregiver, it’s important to work closely with your loved one’s doctor as well as other members of the healthcare team to create a treatment plan that will be best for your loved one. And remember that doctors are an important resource for caregivers too. They can provide tailored recommendations for social workers, home care agencies, and support groups in the area, depending on each patient and caregiver’s specific needs.
To all family caregivers out there, we hear you.
That’s why we’re providing you with resources and ways to improve communication. The following video series will explore these challenges and other key findings from our survey, through the eyes of fellow caregivers. We hope you find their insights helpful.
NAMENDA XR® (memantine hydrochloride) extended-release capsules are approved for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. NAMENDA XR is available by prescription only.
IMPORTANT RISK INFORMATION About NAMENDA XR
Who should NOT take NAMENDA XR?
NAMENDA XR should not be taken by anyone who is allergic (hypersensitive) to memantine, the active substance in NAMENDA XR, or who has had a bad reaction to NAMENDA XR or any of its ingredients.
What should be discussed with the healthcare provider before taking NAMENDA XR?
Before starting NAMENDA XR, talk to the healthcare provider about all of the patient's past and present medical conditions, including:
- Seizure disorders
- Difficulty passing urine
- Liver or kidney problems
If the patient is taking other medications (including those without a prescription), ask the healthcare provider if NAMENDA XR is right for the patient.
- Certain medications, changes in diet, or medical conditions may affect the amount of NAMENDA XR in the body and possibly increase side effects.
What are the possible side effects of NAMENDA XR?
The most common side effects associated with NAMENDA XR treatment are headache, diarrhea, and dizziness. This is not a complete list of side effects.
Please see full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information.
This content was sponsored by Forest Laboratories, makers of Namenda XR.Please click here to see full Prescribing Information
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Content sponsored by Forest Laboratories, Inc.