Although there is no medication available to treat posterior cortical atrophy(PCA) specifically, patients may find some of the medications available to treat patients with typical Alzheimer’s disease helpful. The medications are called acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors and include donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl). However, these medications are only designed to treat the symptoms of the disease and are not a cure (see Factsheet 407, Drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease).

Although individuals with PCA often show relatively preserved insight, they are frequently very disabled by the decline in their ability to interact successfully with the visual world around them. In particular, the cognitive problems associated with the condition often lead to a loss of independence, cause activities of daily living to be compromised and inhibit the enjoyment of previous hobbies, especially reading. Such problems can lead to depression, irritability, frustration and a loss of self-confidence. Individuals with PCA who are experiencing low mood may benefit from a trial of antidepressant medication.

Supporting people with PCA

There are a number of similarities between the support that may be offered to individuals with PCA and people with other forms of dementia, especially typical Alzheimer’s disease. These include the distribution of information about available financial benefits (e.g. Disability Living Allowance) and financial provisions (e.g. Lasting Power of Attorney).

There is a range of practical visual aids designed to assist individuals with different types of visual impairment which may be of use to people with PCA. These include devices such as talking clocks and watches, mobile telephones with simplified displays or pre-programmable direct-dial buttons and cooking aids such as sensors which beep when a cup is nearly full.

There is also an increasingly wide range of talking books and audio recordings available either on CD or downloadable from the internet, with a range of titles from romantic novels to biographies and technical manuals. Audio guides are also available for many cultural events including the theatre and museums.

Your local Alzheimer’s Society branch will always be willing to talk to you and offer advice and information to support your needs.