Dosage and Side Effects of Drugs
Doctors usually start patients at low drug doses and gradually increase the dosage based on how well a patient tolerates the drug. There is some evidence that certain patients may benefit from higher doses of the cholinesterase inhibitors. However, the higher the dose, the more likely are side effects. The recommended effective dosages of drugs prescribed to treat the symptoms of Moderate Alzheimer's disease and the drugs’ possible side effects are summarized in the table (see below).
Patients should be monitored when a drug is started. Report any unusual symptoms to the doctor immediately. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions when taking any medication, including vitamins and herbal supplements. Also, let the doctor know before adding or changing any medications.
Alzheimer's Disease is a Growing National Problem
The various stages of Alzheimer's disease for older adults and their families stands in the way of the “Golden Years.” Alzheimer's Disease also presents a major problem for the health care system and society as a whole. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. Recent estimates in the United States currently show that people with Alzheimer's Disease range from 2.4 million to 4.5 million. But scientists agree that unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the numbers will increase significantly if current population trends continue.
Our aging society makes Alzheimer's disease an especially critical issue. A U.S. Census Bureau report on aging in the United States notes that the population age 65 and older is expected to double in size to about 72 million people within the next 25-years.
Moreover, the 85 and older age group is the fastest growing segment of the AD population. This is all the more important for a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer's Disease because the number of people with the disease doubles for every 5-year age interval beyond age 65.
Alzheimer's disease not only affects the people with the disease, of course. The number of Alzheimer's Disease caregivers—and their needs—can be expected to rise rapidly as the population ages and as the number of people with alzheimers disease increases. During their years of Alzheimer's Disease care giving, spouses, relatives, and friends experience great emotional, physical, and financial challenges. As the disease runs its course and the abilities of people with Alzheimer's disease steadily decline, family members face difficult, and often costly, decisions about long-term care.
The growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease and the costs associated with the disease also put a heavy economic burden on society. The national direct and indirect costs of caring for people with Alzheimer's Disease are estimated to be more than $100 billion a year. A study provided an equally sobering picture of the impact of Alzheimer's Disease. It is estimated that if current Alzheimer's Disease trends continue, total Federal Medicare spending to treat beneficiaries with the disease will increase to more than $180 billion by the year 2015.
For these above reasons, Alzheimer's disease is an urgent research priority. We need to find ways to manage and treat Alzheimer's Disease because of its broad-reaching and devastating impact. We now know that the disease process begins many years, perhaps even decades, before symptoms emerge. Discovering ways to identify Alzheimer's Disease in the earliest stages and halt, or slow its progress will benefit individuals, families, and the entire nation.