Memory loss can be many things from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias with different methods to diagnose and manage cognitive decline.   This was the topic of discussion at a recent community symposium on memory loss at Overlook Medical Center’s Atlantic Neuroscience Institute. 

Dr. Saurabh Sharma, a cognitive neurologist at Overlook Medical Center’s Memory and Cognitive Disorders Program, says there are different types of interventions that will help manage the disease and possibly prevent secondary dementias.

These include: keeping blood pressure within normal ranges; controlling cholesterol; treating sleep apnea; following the MIND diet; being physically and socially active, and limiting alcohol intake.

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To manage the primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, there are two types of medications – Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne; and Memantine, an NMDA receptor, such as Namenda.  However, they are not a cure, and don’t prevent the progression of the underlying disease. Of those taking cholinesterase inhibitors, about 1/3 of the people improve, 1/3 stabilize and 1/3 have no response. Memantine blocks excessive glutamate release, allowing better function of the impaired brain, and is usually indicated for people with moderate to severe symptoms of dementia.

Changes in a patient’s condition can cause cognitive decline and depression. “Giving the patient more freedom to make their own choices, to participate in once favorite activities, or even music, might help,” Dr. Sharma said.

If insomnia strikes, it could be anxiety, but it could be from drinking coffee or tea four hours before bedtime. Dr. Sharma recommended trying natural remedies such as melatonin or herbal teas before relying on medication and not using Benadryl or benzodiazepines, also known as benzos.

Drug therapies are available for other behavioral symptoms, including mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants and neuroleptics. Dr. Sharma encourages the use of medically proven drugs and avoiding supplements for which “reliable research on the efficacy and safety” is not available. 

Dr.  Sharma has offices in Martinsville, Summit, and Union. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, click here, or call 908-522-2829.