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Alzheimer's Disease

Managing and Treating Dementia

01/11/2001

Question:

My father was diagnosed with dementia after a 6 month study. The doctors said that he had some cognitive impairment and became agitated when submitted to mental testing. A CAT/PET scan showed some strokes and some vascular abnormalities in his cortex. He also has Type II Diabetes and is taking an alpha cell stimulator. Blood tests have revealed some hepatic enzyme deficiencies. He has been prescribed aricept (5mg per day), vitamin E supplements (1500 units per day), and one aspirin a day. Are there any additional things that may help? He tends to have rather rapid mood swings and becomes angry, especially when he is pressured a bit. Is this a normal symptom of the cognitive impairment seen in dementia? Can anything be done to help him? Thank you.

Answer:

Thank you for your questions. Dr. Geldmacher from the University Alzheimer Center has responded. `Cholinesterase inhibitor drugs, like donepezil (Aricept), plus vitamin E at high dose 800-2000 IU daily represent the standard of drug therapy for AD. Mood swings and agitation are as fundamental a part of the clinical expression of AD as memory loss is. Other medications may help to alleviate some of the behavioral symptoms, since none of the Aricept, Vitamin E, or aspirin are targeted toward those problems. Many doctors will use antidepressants/mood stabilizers like Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, or Trazodone for these symptoms. Not all treatments involve medicines. Day activity programs may also be useful for reducing agitation. Consult with his doctor about the symptoms, how they interfere with your father`s daily life, and what treatment options would be best for him. The Alzheimer`s Association may be able to tell you what nondrug options are available in your community.` Again, thank you very much for your questions. If we can be of any furthur asistance to you, please don`t hesitate to contact us again.

Related Resources:

University Alzheimer Center
National Alzheimer Association
Alzheimer Disease Education And Referral Center

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Paula K Ogrocki, PhD Paula K Ogrocki, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

David   Geldmacher, MD David Geldmacher, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University