Currently, no treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exist to cure the condition, to effectively slow its progression or reverse its effects. However, new research is generating optimism that new options will be soon be developed. Meanwhile, treatment options for AD include managing symptoms, adjusting the home environment to better accommodate daily activities and support for the patient’s caregiver and family.
Prescription drugs help control some of the more challenging symptoms of AD such as depression, behavior changes and sleeplessness. Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine are examples of medications used to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Their benefits vary with each individual and may create undesirable side effects. Dietary supplements such as vitamin E and ginkgo biloba are thought to have some medicinal value but so far there is no strong evidence to support that.
Because it is incurable, treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease focus on managing its progress through rehabilitation programs. The specific strategy depends on what symptoms the patient is experiencing, how severe they are, and the progress of the disease. Skills lost cannot be regained, so elements of the program must be constantly modified and adapted as AD progresses.
Considerations in planning the management program for Alzheimer’s disease include:
- a balance of exercise, proper nutrition, social activity and health maintenance
- activities that are meaningful, satisfying and provide structure and a sense of accomplishment
- allowing the patient to complete as many activities as possible by themselves
- label drawers and other items to provide cues for daily activities
- remove all safety risks
- honestly evaluating the caregiver’s own physical and emotional limitations