How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
Despite all the research efforts and several symptomatic treatments for symptoms, there is no known prevention, cure, or approved disease-modifying intervention for Alzheimer’s disease.
Physicians and clinicians have many symptomatic treatments that they use to treat the common behavioral symptoms of the Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Providers also work with families and community providers to teach them how to use non-pharmacological interventions first, then try medications to manage challenging behaviors if necessary.
Effective non-pharmacological interventions include lifestyle, relaxation and environmental treatment, such as:
Daily exercise to improve mood and function. Exercise has been shown to helpful for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and the family caregiver.
Managing the environment to reduce too much stimuli such as decluttering spaces, having adequate lighting to reduce confusion visually
Avoiding falls by installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing scatter rugs, reducing/eliminating stairs for the person with Alzheimer’s, installing night lights in the hallway and bathroom to assist the individual to be able to see at night
Hand massages with an essential oil like lavender oil reduces agitation as much as giving the person a powerful antipsychotic drug.
Pet therapy, music therapy and art therapy have been shown to be effective at reducing depression.
When these types of interventions fail, then providers use atypical antipsychotic medications to manage difficult behaviors.