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Alzheimer's Disease Therapy Options

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The U.S. population is getting older, and as it ages, Alzheimer's disease is becoming an increasingly bigger concern. Within the next 50 years, the incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to quadruple, affecting one in 45 Americans.

Today, there is still no cure for Alzheimer's. People with the disease progressively lose memory and the ability to function. Researchers are still trying to fully understand how its brain plaques and tangles lead to memory loss and other cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric symptoms -- and how to reverse those changes to prevent or stop the disease. 

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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis by a professional is particularly important, because a number of other ailments -- many of which are treatable -- share symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease. These include infections, inadequate nutrition, vitamin B-12 deficiency, anemia, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), depression, and cerebral vascular insufficiency (decreased blood flow to the brain due to constricted or obstructed arteries). Also, a medication side effect or a harmful combination of medicines...

Read the Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Diagnosis & Treatment article > >

However, there are treatments available today that can help patients manage the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, allowing them to function at a higher level for a longer period of time. Alzheimer's therapy involves a number of different treatments that address each of these problems. Because symptoms change over time, doctors need to adjust their Alzheimer's patients' therapies as new problems emerge.

Alzheimer's Disease Medications

Several different types of medications are used to treat the memory loss, behavior changes, sleep problems, and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. These medications won't stop the disease, but they can slow down the progression of symptoms for a few months or even years.  All of these medications can have side effects, which can be even more pronounced in older people.

Four medications in two classes are FDA-approved specifically for Alzheimer's therapy:

 

Other Alzheimer's Therapies

It has been suggested that some non-drug therapies also can help Alzheimer's patients cope with the symptoms of the condition. 

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