There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, or treatment to stop its progression or reverse the symptoms. Most drugs used to treat Alzheimer's are aimed at slowing the rate at which symptoms become worse. The benefit from these drugs is often small, and patients and their families may not notice benefit.
Alzheimer’s disease is classified into various stages that range from mild to moderate to severe. In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient is unable to communicate and is completely dependent on others for care
The lifespan of patients with Alzheimer's is generally reduced, although a patient may live anywhere from 3 - 20 years after diagnosis. The final phase of the disease may last from a few months to several years, during which time the patient becomes increasingly immobile and dysfunctional.
Home Treatment in Early Stages
Telling the Patient. Often doctors will not tell patients that they have Alzheimer's. If a patient expresses a need to know the truth, it should be disclosed. Both the caregiver and the patient can then begin to address issues that can be controlled, such as access to support groups and drug research.
Mood and Emotional Behavior. Patients display abrupt mood swings, and many become aggressive and angry. Some of this erratic behavior is caused by chemical changes in the brain. But it may also be due to the experience of losing knowledge and understanding of one's surroundings, causing fear and frustration that patients can no longer express verbally.
The following recommendations for caregivers may help soothe patients and avoid agitation:
Review Date: 06/22/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.