Are There Any Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Although there are some treatments for Alzheimer's disease, there is currently no cure. Treatment available focuses on delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease symptoms, or helping to offset dementia and hallucinations that can occur in late stage Alzheimer's disease. Many other proposed treatments are under investigation for possible efficacy.

Some medications may increase cognitive function, but there are no medications that can cure Alzheimer's.
Some medications may increase cognitive function, but there are no medications that can cure Alzheimer's.

Several medications can help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease. These medications include tacrine (brand name Cognex®), rivastigmine (Exelon®), and galantamine (Razadyne® or Reminyl®). Such drugs are taken during early onset of Alzheimer’s and may help reduce cognition dysfunction and dementia. Common side effects include upset stomach, which is often reduced by taking the medication with food.

Treatment availbale for Alzheimer's focuses on delaying the onset of the symptoms.
Treatment availbale for Alzheimer's focuses on delaying the onset of the symptoms.

One medication, donepezil (Aricept®), may improve cognitive function even if taken at later stages of Alzheimer's disease. Again, Aricept is associated with stomach upset, but side effects are usually outweighed by potential benefits of the medication. None of these medications can cure Alzheimer's disease but some may increase time before the disease progresses and may help improve early onset symptoms like memory loss and mild confusion.

Several medications can help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Several medications can help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, some people benefit from medications primarily taken by people with psychiatric hallucinatory conditions. Atypical antipsychotics such as clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, and ziprasadone, known respectively by patented names Clozaril®, Risperdal®, Zyprexa®, and Geodon®, may all prove beneficial to people who are prone to violence due to late Alzheimer's disease dementia. They can help people feel more comfortable, inducing fewer episodes of severe dementia and confusion.

Clozaril can help Alzheiner's patients feel more comfortable, and induce fewer epidsodes of severe confusion.
Clozaril can help Alzheiner's patients feel more comfortable, and induce fewer epidsodes of severe confusion.

Some other treatments under investigation show that vitamins E and C when taken jointly can delay onset of more severe Alzheimer's disease symptoms by about seven months. Alternative medicine advocates suggest ginkgo biloba might also help delay memory loss. Medical researchers are currently trying to put together clinical trials to test this claim. Estrogen replacement therapy may delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, but has been linked to various forms of cancer, so risks must be weighed against benefits.

Some researchers believe that further stem cell research may hold the key to curing Alzheimer's disease. More needs to be understood in this area about what stem cells would be likely to help fix brain cells that have deteriorated, and whether using stem cells might cause adverse affects. This relatively new field still requires significant research to determine whether Alzheimer’s disease could be addressed via stem cell therapy.

Continued research into the causes, mechanisms and potential cure of Alzheimer's disease is clearly needed. This remains a challenging condition for people affected by the disease and their families. It is hoped that a larger body of research will ultimately find a way to effectively end this disease.

Some patients with Alzheimer's disease live at an assisted living center where they can be fed and monitored on a regular basis.
Some patients with Alzheimer's disease live at an assisted living center where they can be fed and monitored on a regular basis.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon332199

There is the Edgar Cayce treatment for Alzheimer's disease as well. It is a holistic or alternative medicine perspective.

leilani

What has been discovered is that patients with Alzheimer's disease have accumulated plaque on their brain. At the present time it is not possible to know whether people with memory loss, confusion and other symptoms of alzheimers disease have actually that disease or it is some other illness present with same or similar symptoms.

Well, just recently (2010) the news came out, that a brain scan is, or will be shortly available to determine whether plaque is present or not.

Until now the only way to find out about the existence of plaque was through autopsy.

The discovery of the scan is a huge step in Alzheimer's disease treatment. The next step will be coming up with medication that can dissolve, or in some way destroy the plaque.

Of course even better will be the day when we find out what is actually causing plaque to form in the first place.

anon25050

Is it true that drinking coffee can slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease??

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