The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is usually focused on slowing the progression of the disease. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but researchers are working everyday to find one.
There are four primary medications, called cholinesterase inhibitors, used to treat Alzheimer’s disease:
- tacrine (Cognex)
- donepezil (Aricept)
- rivastigmine tartrate (Exelon)
- galantamine (Reminyl)
These medications may slow the intellectual decline in some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs increase the brain’s levels of acetylcholine, which helps to restore communication between brain cells.
Another medication, memantine (Namenda), has been shown to stabilize memory in people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It is the first in a new class of medications called NMDA receptor antagonists.
Other Coping Strategies for Alzheimer’s
Other strategies used to help people with Alzheimer’s include psychotherapy techniques (such as reality orientation and memory retraining) and non-Alzheimer’s medications to relieve depression and calm agitated behavior.
As much as possible, a person with Alzheimer’s disease should follow a regular exercise routine, maintain normal social contacts with family and friends and continue intellectual activities. In addition to regularly scheduled doctor visits, patients and their families should take advantage of community resources and support groups. Discuss any safety concerns, especially driving, with the doctor.
Although several nonprescription products claim to improve mental function, the scientific evidence to support this claim is weak. Check with your doctor before taking any nonprescription medication, especially if you are taking a prescription medication for heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure or mental illness or if you have problems with your heart or liver.