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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
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Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

While there are no cures for Alzheimer's disease (AD), there are medications that can slow down the memory or thinking changes. The best-known treatment is a class of medications called cholinesterase inhibitors. Donepezil (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon) and Galantamine (Razydyne) are examples of cholinesterase inhibitors. These medications increase the level of a neurotransmitter in the brain, acetylcholine, which is important for attention and memory. Common side effects with cholinesterase inhibitors include nausea, diarrhea and dizziness.

Often, mood and behavioral changes can be seen in AD. In these cases, medications can be prescribed to controls symptoms. They do not cure the disease but can provide relief for affected individuals and their caregivers. Antidepressants can be given to treat depression, anxiety or irritability. Low doses of antipsychotics may also be considered to help address delusional thinking (believing things that have no real foundation) or aggression.

Importantly, there are a number of lifestyle changes that have been shown to help individuals with AD. These include a Mediterranean-style diet, physical exercise, social engagement, adequate sleep and limited alcohol intake.

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