Alzheimer's Disease - Treatment Overview
While there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer's disease, you can create a care plan to maintain quality of life and help the person stay active.
As you get started, ask yourself, other family members, and your doctor these questions:
- What kind of care does the person need right now?
- Who will take care of the person in the future?
- What can the family expect as the disease progresses?
- What kind of planning needs to be done?
Care plans may include any of the following:
- Medicines, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. These medicines may temporarily help with memory and thinking problems caused by the disease.
- Alzheimer's Disease: Should I Take Medicines?
- Regular checkups. The doctor will check the person's response to medicine, look for new problems, see how symptoms are changing, and provide continuing education to the family. Treatment decisions often need to be revisited as the disease progresses. A person with Alzheimer's should see the doctor every 6 months, or sooner if a problem arises.
- Helping the person remain independent and manage daily life as long as possible.
- A plan for the caregiver. Most people with Alzheimer's disease can be cared for at home by family or friends, at least until the disease becomes severe.
See Home Treatment to learn more about helping the person remain independent, making the most of the person's abilities, and dealing with new problems as they arise.
What to think about
An important part of treatment is finding and treating other medical problems the person may have.
- Depression occurs in nearly half of people with Alzheimer's disease, especially those in the early stage of the disease. Helping them get treatment for depression can help them to do better with the abilities they still have.
- Hearing and vision loss, thyroid problems, kidney problems, and other conditions are common in older adults and may make Alzheimer's worse. Treating these problems can improve quality of life and ease the burden on the caregiver.