What are the treatments and drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease?

There are several Alzheimer's treatments, but no Alzheimer's disease cure. One main component of Alzheimer's treatment is ensuring patient safety. This includes limiting the risks associated with impaired driving, wandering behavior, and household accidents. It is important to address these issues with the patient and family early in the course of the illness and to implement appropriate safety measures.

Another component of Alzheimer's treatment is family education. Education and support may reduce the need for a skilled nursing facility, and reduce caregiver stress and burnout.

Altering the environment to be Alzheimer's friendly is also helpful. Studies have shown that brightly colored cups and plates can help entice an Alzheimer's patient to eat. Keeping household objects organized and in consistent order also helps reduce confusion.

Finally, there are a number of Alzheimer's medicines that treat specific Alzheimer's disease symptoms. An example of an Alzheimer's medication is the class of drugs known as cholinesterase inhibitors. This class of Alzheimer's drug is approved for the treatment of mild to moderate memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease. These drugs (donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl)) have been shown to cause small improvements in memory, language, and ability to perform the activities of daily living. These drugs may also reduce symptoms of aggressiveness.

Another need for Alzheimer's medicine is to reduce behavioral symptoms, such as agitation, wandering behavior, hallucinations, social inappropriateness, and depression.

For agitation, aggression, and hallucinations, Alzheimer's medicines include olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel). For depression, citalopram (Celexa) and sertraline (Zoloft) may be used.

Another useful Alzheimer's medicine is vitamin E. Vitamin E, 1000 IU, given twice daily has been shown to slow progression of the disease.

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