The GP is in a unique position to follow and support patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families from diagnosis to the end stages of the disease, as illustrated by the following case.
- Regular follow up of patients with suspected Alzheimer’s disease is advisable because early diagnosis has many advantages.
- In studies, cholinesterase inhibitors have shown modest benefits in cognitive, functional and behavioural domains for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and reduced caregiver time and distress.
- A community Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or community dementia nurse can provide many support services to assist the patient and carer.
- In patients with severe dementia, behavioural disorders can respond well to psychosocial approaches such as behaviour modification, music therapy, aromatherapy, exercise and activity programs.
- The best ally in the continuing care of the person with dementia is the family. Remember to attend also to the carer’s physical, psychological and social health needs.