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Therapies for Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia affects 40 million aging Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and an estimated five million seniors have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, a number of treatment therapies have been found helpful in controlling the symptoms of the disease and improving the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Medications

The FDA has approved two medications to treat Alzheimer’s. Cholinesterase inhibitors can delay the worsening of symptoms like memory loss and confusion for up to a year for those in early and moderate stages of Alzheimer’s. For moderate to severe stages, a medication called memantine is commonly prescribed to control these symptoms.

Non-Drug Approaches to Treating Alzheimer’s

Managing behavioral symptoms and providing emotional comfort are essential for treating Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, family caretakers should learn as much as possible about the disease, since recognizing certain signs can help you proactively head off potential triggers and ensure your loved one feels safe and comfortable in general.
Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and engaging in enjoyable activities to keep the mind active can help lessen the severity of symptoms while improving your loved one’s quality of life. Addressing any co-occurring physical or mental health issues is also important, since these can affect your loved one’s condition.

Hope for the Future

Researchers are currently studying some promising possibilities for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. In December, 2015, scientists isolated the genes that delay the onset of the disease, and in early 2016, new research identified certain factors, including smoking and diabetes, that increase the mortality risk in those with Alzheimer’s, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S