The purpose of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is to slow the progression of cognitive decline. As the patient deteriorates and moves into the more severe stages of the disease, the purpose of treatment is to control Alzheimer’s symptoms and raise the patient’s overall quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease can be treated a number of different ways. Some of these include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Antioxidant treatment
- Healthy lifestyle choices
- Herbal remedies
- Hormone therapy
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs)
- Therapeutic activities.
Anti-inflammatory Drug Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Inflammation of the brain may be a factor in cognitive decline. As a result, anti-inflammatory drugs may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidant Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Doctors believe that free radical damage may be one of the contributing factors for the deterioration of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E may help to protect the brain and slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s with Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Certain healthy lifestyle choices can also help to slow cognitive decline. These are:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining an active social life
- Participating in mentally stimulating activities.
Herbal Remedies Used for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s
Herbal treatment for Alzheimer’s is the subject of much controversy. Some studies suggest there is evidence that herbal remedies such as gingko biloba and huperzine A may slow cognitive decline. However, herbal supplements can interact with prescription medication, and aren’t proven effective.
Hormone Therapy Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Hormone therapy is another highly controversial treatment for Alzheimer’s. Some research suggests that hormone therapy (also known as “hormone replacement therapy”) may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or slow its progression. Other studies suggest that cognitive impairment is one of the side effects of hormone therapy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may have a protective effect on the brain’s neurons. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish, such as tuna.
Drug Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Researchers have identified two types of medication that slow cognitive decline:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors treat early and mid-stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These drugs block the enzymes that destroy acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter involved in memory and other cognitive functions).
- Memantine treats moderate to severe Alzheimer’s symptoms. This drug regulates the activity of glutamate (another neurotransmitter involved in memory and other cognitive functions).
Statins: Treating Alzheimer’s by Lowering Cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to a variety of cardiovascular problems. Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Statins, which help to lower cholesterol, may be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Therapeutic Activity Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Some patients may benefit from therapeutic activity treatment. Alzheimer’s disease behavioral symptoms may decrease when patients are involved in activities that engage their mind, their interests and their skills.
Choosing the Best Alzheimer’s Treatment
A multi-faceted approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s is likely to yield the best results. However, it’s important to consult your physician before adopting any new method of treatment to ensure it will not negatively interact with any current medication or treatments.
American Health Assistance Foundation. (n.d.) Potential Alzheimer’s treatments. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/treatment/potential/.
Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (n.d.) Alzheimer’s therapeutic activities. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-treatment-therapeutic.asp.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Lifestyle and home remedies. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/DS00161/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Treatments and drugs. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/DS00161/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
U.S. National Institutes of Health National Institute of Aging Staff. (n.d.) The search for AD prevention strategies. Retrieved April 28, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/ADPrevented/strategies.htm.