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Caregiver Video Resource Center

Did you know that there are nearly 15 million family members, friends, and neighbors who care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease? Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone by hearing what your fellow caregivers have to say. Sometimes, the best advice for family caregivers comes from those who have walked the path before you.


Suzanne Mintz, CEO Emeritus and co-founder of CAN and Gustavo Alva, MD, DFAPA, a psychiatrist from Costa Mesa, California, introduce the video series.

Suzanne Mintz, CAN:

Being a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is a job that now nearly 15 million Americans currently have. While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is frightening, take comfort knowing you’re not alone. Millions of people across the country are walking in similar shoes. And we at Caregiver Action Network are here to help too.

Hi, I’m Suzanne Mintz, Co-Founder and CEO Emeritus of Caregiver Action Network. We help family caregivers develop their capabilities and build their confidence by providing them with education and support. To help identify needs of Alzheimer’s family caregivers and ways to help, we conducted a survey in partnership with Forest Laboratories.

The survey found that one of the biggest stressors for caregivers is related to communicating with the patient – nearly half said communication breakdown between themselves and their loved one greatly impacts their overall stress level.

Dr. Gustavo Alva, a psychiatrist who treats Alzheimer’s patients, counsels their caregivers and conducts research in this field, has seen many caregivers struggle with this communication breakdown.

Dr. Gustavo Alva:

Hi, I’m Dr. Alva.  Being an Alzheimer’s disease caregiver is not easy. They are faced everyday with incredible hurdles, tough decisions, and heightened stress.

As a doctor who sees Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers every day, it’s important to be aware that there are FDA-approved medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that can make a difference for both patients and caregivers. There is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s disease, and the medications available now will not change the course of the disease, but they may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms for a period of time.

There are two classes of Alzheimer’s disease medications that work in different ways in the brain to help slow symptom progression. One category is cholinesterase inhibitors and includes three drugs: Aricept (donepezil), Exelon (rivastigmine) and Razadyne (galantamine).   In general, these may be prescribed when a patient is in the mild to moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease.  While no medications have been shown to treat specific symptoms, some symptoms patients may show in this stage include: forgetting recent events, greater difficulty performing complex tasks like paying bills and forgetting one’s own personal history.

The other category of medication is called NMDA receptor antagonists and only includes one medication called Namenda (memantine hydrochloride). As patients progress to the moderate and severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease, they start to show symptoms like increased confusion, inability to recall information like their address or phone number and difficulty remembering family and friend’s names.  Patients in the moderate to severe stage may be prescribed combination therapy with Namenda plus Aricept 5 or 10 mg.  There is no evidence that Namenda or Aricept prevents or slows the underlying disease process in Alzheimer’s patients.

Namenda and Aricept have risks, so patients and caregivers should talk to their doctor about all treatment options regarding their benefit and potential side effects. The most common side effects associated with Namenda treatment are dizziness, confusion, headache, and constipation. This is not a complete list of side effects. Additional Important Risk Information about Namenda follows this introduction.

As a caregiver, it’s important to work closely with your loved one’s doctor as well as other members of the healthcare team to create a treatment plan that will be best for your loved one. And remember that doctors are an important resource for caregivers too. They can provide tailored recommendations for services such as social workers, home care agencies, and support groups in the area, depending on each patient and caregiver’s specific needs.

Suzanne Mintz:

To all family caregivers out there, we hear you. 

That’s why we’re providing you with resources and ways to improve communication.  The following video series will explore these challenges and other key findings from our survey, through the eyes of fellow caregivers.  We hope you find their insights helpful.

NAMENDA® (memantine hydrochloride) is approved for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. NAMENDA is available by prescription only.

Important Risk Information About NAMENDA
Who should NOT take NAMENDA?
NAMENDA should not be taken by anyone who is allergic to NAMENDA or has had a bad reaction to NAMENDA or any of its components.

What should be discussed with the healthcare provider before taking NAMENDA?
Before starting NAMENDA, talk to the healthcare provider about:

  • The recommended dosing and administration of NAMENDA
  • All of the patient’s medical conditions, including liver and kidney problems or seizure disorders.
    • NAMENDA has not been studied in patients with seizures.
    • NAMENDA should be used with caution in patients with severe liver problems.
    • In patients with severe kidney problems, the dose of NAMENDA may need to be reduced.
  • All prescription or over-the-counter medications the patient is taking or planning to take 
    • The combined use of NAMENDA with drugs such as amantadine, ketamine, or dextromethorphan has not been studied and such use should be approached with caution.
    • Certain medications, changes in diet, or medical conditions may affect the amount of Namenda in the body and possibly increase side effects.

This content was sponsored by Forest Laboratories, makers of Namenda.

Please click here to see full Prescribing Information

Video Topics

Discovering Alzheimer's Disease
Learn about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, as well as tips for coping with the diagnosis.
Life as a Caregiver
Listen to fellow caregivers talk about their day-to-day experiences and discover ways that may help you adapt your routine.
Caregiver Tactics
Find out how you can stay connected with your loved one by hearing what's worked for others.
Finding Support
Learn about the importance of addressing your loved one's needs as well as your own.

Content sponsored by Forest Laboratories, Inc.