Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Options

Therapist speaks with patient about treatment options

Alzheimer's is a complex disease and there is no single treatment to prevent or cure it. Current Alzheimer's treatments focus on several different areas, including:

  • Helping Alzheimer's patients maintain function
  • Managing behavioral symptoms
  • Slowing the advance of the disease

OHSU offers a variety of treatment and support options

Medication therapy for Alzheimer's

No treatment has been found to stop Alzheimer's. However there are medications which may help maintain thinking, memory and speaking skills for a period of time. Other medications may also help with behavioral symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, wandering, anger and depression.

The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center's Medications Fact Sheet provides detailed information about specific drug treatments.

Complementary and alternative medicine therapies

Complementary and alternative medicine therapies are used either together with (complementary) or as a substitute (alternative)for health and disease treatment. These therapies are usually defined as those that fall outside of conventional medicine. They may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Dietary therapies and supplements
  • Herbal therapies
  • Meditation

The effectiveness and safety of many of these therapies have not been evaluated thoroughly. Most doctors in the U.S. have little training in using them. The OHSU Department of Neurology is an exception, with a research center focused on complementary and alternative medicine therapies.

Research in alternative therapies. Alternative therapy research focuses on finding strategies that delay the start or slow the advance of dementia. Some treatments that could help prevent dementia:

  • Lifestyle changes: reducing trans fats in your diet and eating more fish, fruits and vegetables
  • Physical activity to help keep your brain healthy
  • Acupuncture and meditation for stress reduction

Some promising research in complementary therapies for dementia prevention and caregiver health is currently underway at OHSU.