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Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease

National Institute on Aging

The Alzheimer's Association has defined ten tell-tale signs of this terrible disease. We review them here.



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memory loss causes


Medications for Early to Moderate Stages of Alzheimer's Disease


donepezil (Aricept)

A cholinesterase inhibitor usually prescribed along with one or two other Cholinesterese inhibitors to treat symptoms related to memory, thinking, language, judgment and other thought processes. This drug was developed by Eisai, Inc and is marketed by Pfizer


rivastigmine (Exelon)

Another cholinesterase inhibitor developed at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Marketed by Novartis


galantamine (Razadyne)

A cholinesterase inhibitor developed by Dr. Bonnie Davis, a private physician, and marketed by Janssen


Note that tacrine (Cognex) was the first cholinesterase inhibitor approved. It is rarely prescribed today because of serious side effects.


Medications for Moderate to Severe Stages


memantine (Namenda)

This drug regulates the activity of glutamate, a messenger chemical involved in learning and memory. It was developed by Eli Lilly and is marketed by Forest and under other names in Europe and Asia. Memantine is often prescribed along with cholinesterase inhibitors.

book: 36-hour day

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss

Trial Match Brochure

The Alzheimer's Association has a matching program for clinical trials. Anyone can participate. To learn more, download the Trial Match Brochure here.



Man With Meds

What Is Available Now To Treat Alzheimer's?

Gretchen Heuring for ElderThink


Different Treatments for Body and for Mind

Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease are broken into two categories described as cognitive and behavioral. Cognitive symptoms involve memory, language, paying attention, and judgment. Behavioral symptoms include emotional expressions like temper outbursts, suspiciousness, or withdrawal.



A drug called "Diazoside" was developed decades ago to treat high blood pressure has been shown to improve learning and memory in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Aging. The drug improves blood flow in the brain and prevents the harmful accumulation of two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, which are hallmarks of Alzheimer's.


Medicines that slow the progress of cognitive Symptoms

Drugs currently on the market can slow or delay Alzheimer's cognitive symptoms. These drugs all seem to lose their effectiveness over time and some are prescribed in combination. Researchers all over the world are working hard on medicines for both prevention and cure. A brief description can be found in the right column of this page for each medicine currently in use.


Behavioral symptoms require different drugs

Other drugs are prescribed for behavioral symptoms such as sleeplessness, depression and anxiety. These include Celexa, Remeron or Zoloft. Aggression can be extreme with Alzheimer's patients. Depakote, Tegretol or Trileptal are prescribed for aggression. Paranoia, hallucinations and agitation are most often treated with antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal, Seroquel or Zyprexa.


Ongoing testing in clinical trails

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the path to effective new treatments is through clinical trials. Right now, at least 50,000 volunteers are urgently needed to participate in more than 100 actively enrolling clinical trials about Alzheimer's and related dementias. Trials are recruiting people with Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as well as healthy volunteers to be controls. Find out more about participating in a clinical study through the Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch service , a free tool for people with Alzheimer's, caregivers, families and physicians to locate clinical trials based on personal criteria (diagnosis, stage of disease) and location.