How is Alzheimer’s Treated?

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the response can be overwhelming and leave us asking, “What now? Where do we go from here?” While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, symptoms can often be treated and the progression of the disease can be slowed. Current treatment options focus on prevention and addressing underlying issues affiliated with Alzheimer’s such as diabetes and heart disease treatment, cognitive training, and changes in diet and exercise.

How is Alzheimer's Treated

Treated with Drugs

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five medications to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These drugs are:

  • Donepezil
  • Galantamine
  • Tacrine
  • Rivastigmine
  • Memantine

The first four drugs listed are cholinesterase inhibitors, which work to protect a key neurotransmitter attacked by Alzheimer’s Disease. The fifth drug, memantine, regulates the activity of a chemical messenger that helps with learning and memory.  It is important to note that the approved Alzheimer’s drugs are effective for six to twelve months for half of the patients who take them. 

 Treated with Sensory Therapy

Another common form of Alzheimer’s treatment focuses on sensory therapy. This would include art therapy, music therapy, and even poetry therapy which might help trigger memories and allow patients to reconnect with loved ones, even momentarily. Often, sensory is the last cognitive function that Alzheimer’s patients will lose. Because of this, sensory therapies can be an effective way to communicate while strengthening cognitive function.

Alternative Therapies

As researchers continue to search for a cure, many patients and their families are turning to alternative therapies to slow the disease. Some of these alternative treatments are showing great promise in treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They include: 

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diabetes treatments
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs
  • Cholesterol medications

Clinical Trials

With no actual cure for this degenerative disease, researchers are looking for willing participants for clinical trials. The cure to Alzheimer’s most likely lies in these trials. Clinical trials are one effective way for researchers to detect, treat, and ultimately eradicate Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Participants are needed in studies across the country to test both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. To find out more about participating in a trial, visit TrialMatch to find a trial that may be the right fit for you and your loved ones. 

Which treatments have worked best for your loved one? 

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