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Drugs Aging. 2008;25(7):573-84.

Impact of rivastigmine on caregiver burden associated with Alzheimer's disease in both informal care and nursing home settings.

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Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63104, USA.


Progressive deterioration in cognitive function and the ability to perform activities of daily living are the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). As the disease progresses and behavioural/neuropsychiatric symptoms become more predominant, carers of AD patients themselves encounter a raft of physical, emotional, social and financial problems. Appropriate therapeutic management of AD patients, particularly their behavioural symptoms, may reduce the burden placed on family and professional caregivers. Preservation of cholinergic neurotransmission by cholinesterase inhibitors is the mainstay of pharmacological therapy for AD. Rivastigmine, a dual inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase, has pharmacological properties that appear particularly favourable regarding the behavioural symptoms of AD. In addition to its beneficial effects on cognitive and global function, rivastigmine treatment in mild-to-moderate AD is associated with improvements in behavioural symptoms, a decreased requirement for antipsychotic drugs and delays in nursing home placement; reductions in caregiver burden, caregiver time and costs have also been reported. Rivastigmine treatment has also demonstrated improvements in behavioural symptoms and reductions in psychotropic medication usage in nursing home residents with moderate-to-severe AD, and may be associated with a reduction in professional caregiver burden. In summary, the positive effects of rivastigmine on functional and behavioural symptoms of AD help to reduce the time, stress and overall burden associated with caregiving, both in the informal home care and nursing home environments.

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