Alzheimer's patients often suffer from a number of neuropsychiatric disturbances and psychopathology. These symptoms have been known to aggravate patient suffering and caregiver distress, and have been associated with excelerated cognitive decline, poorer quality of life for DAT patients and relatives, alike. As such, clinicians, medical professionals, and caregivers should be aware of the termed "behavioral and psychological signs and symptoms of dementia" or BPSD. This awareness not only serves diagnostic purposes and assists in identifying possible co-morbid conditions but can also help differentiate between various forms of dementia.
These symptoms appear to vary according to the population studied, severity of impairment of the demented individual and stage of the dementia.
Most Common Neuropsychiatric Symptoms:
At earlier stages or with more mild cognitive impairment, occupational therapy has provided support and empowerment to many DAT sufferers. However, treatments for Alzheimer’s mostly consist of pharmaceutical methods. The following are a sample of such drug treaments.
Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors -Medicines which are intended to correct neurotransmitter disturbances, or symptomatic treatments, include acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine and have been show to be effective in treatment for mild to moderate DAT. Studies suggest they are 'safe drugs' whose side effects are limited to gastrointestinal symptoms, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Disease-Modifying Pharmaceutical Candidates - There are a slew of pharmaceutical candidates which are currently under investigation for their potential for inhibiting production, aggregation and to increase clearance of plaque formations including secretase modulators, beta-amyloid immunotherapy, beta-amyloid fibrillisation inhibitors.
Protective Drug Supplements - Drug candidates based on epidemiologic studies which have observed predictive variables such as dietary influences on the development of DAT, include herbal supplements, anti-inflamatory drugs NSAIDS, cholesterol-lowering drugs, oestrogen supplements, and antioxidants.
Behavioral Drug Treatment - At more advanced stages of DAT, characterized by aggression, psychomotor agitation and psychosis, atypical antipsychotic medications which produce fewer detrimental side effects (i.e. tardive dyskinesia, involuntary parkinsonian movements) are preferred. Some examples of these drugs which have provided short term efficacy include risperidone and olanzapine however, acteylcholinesterase inhibitors have also shown improvements in behavioral symptoms.
(Blennow et al. 2006)