Alzheimer's Treatment Options: The 14 Most Common Approaches

Updated August 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

As Alzheimer's disease progresses, it gradually impacts memory, cognitive function, and behavior, leading to challenges for those affected and their loved ones. While there may not be any current cure for this neurodegenerative condition, many treatment options exist to help manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and slow the disease's progress. Therefore, we will try to delve into 14 of the most common approaches to Alzheimer's treatment and provide guidance and support for individuals and caregivers navigating this complex journey.

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1. Medications For Cognitive Symptoms

There could be several medications that have been approved to help manage cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's, including:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: Some of these medications could work by increasing the levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning.
  • Memantine: This drug works by controlling the activity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in brain cell communication.

2. Medications For Behavioral And Psychological Symptoms

Behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as agitation, anxiety, and depression, may be managed with medications, including:

  • Antidepressants: These medications are often used to treat depression and anxiety in Alzheimer's patients.
  • Antipsychotics: In some cases, antipsychotic medications may be prescribed to manage agitation, aggression, or hallucinations.

3. Cognitive Stimulation And Cognitive Rehabilitation

Cognitive stimulation and cognitive rehabilitation are non-pharmacological approaches that aim to improve cognitive function and slow cognitive decline. These approaches may include:

  • Cognitive stimulation therapy: A structured program designed to engage individuals in mentally stimulating activities and social interaction.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation: This approach focuses on teaching strategies and techniques to help individuals with Alzheimer's compensate for cognitive deficits.

4. Physical Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity might be believed to have potential benefits for individuals with Alzheimer's, such as:

  • Improved cardiovascular health.
  • Enhanced mood and reduced anxiety
  • Delayed cognitive decline

It could be essential to choose appropriate exercises based on the individual's physical abilities and preferences.

5. Diet And Nutrition

A balanced diet may contribute to better brain health and slower progression of Alzheimer's symptoms. Some dietary recommendations include:

  • The Mediterranean diet: Rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats
  • The MIND diet: A combination of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets specifically designed to promote brain health.

Source: Getty/AnnaStills

6. Sleep Management

Quality sleep could be crucial for maintaining overall health, including brain health. Sleep management strategies for individuals with Alzheimer's may involve:

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Creating a calm and relaxing sleep environment

7. Social Engagement and Support Groups

Staying socially engaged may help slow cognitive decline and improve overall well-being. Support groups, both for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, provide valuable emotional support and practical advice.

8. Music And Art Therapy

Creative therapies, such as music and art therapy, offer an opportunity for self-expression and emotional release, potentially improving the mood and quality of life of individuals with Alzheimer's. Benefits of these therapies may include:

  • Enhanced communication and social interaction
  • Reduced agitation and anxiety
  • Increased self-esteem and sense of accomplishment

9. Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy involves interactions with animals, such as dogs, cats, or horses, to promote emotional well-being and reduce stress. Potential benefits for individuals with Alzheimer's include:

  • Increased social interaction and engagement.
  • Reduced anxiety and agitation
  • Improved mood and sense of companionship

Source: iStock/Edwin Tan

10. Acupuncture And Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medicine practices have been explored as potential complementary approaches to Alzheimer's treatment. Some possible benefits include the following:

  • Improved cognitive function.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Enhanced overall well-being

However, more research might be needed to understand the effectiveness of these practices fully.

11. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, which involves using essential oils for therapeutic purposes, has been suggested as a complementary approach to managing Alzheimer's symptoms. Some potential benefits include the following:

  • Reduced agitation and anxiety
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Enhanced mood and relaxation

12. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with individuals with Alzheimer's to help them maintain independence and perform daily activities. This may involve:

  • Adapting the home environment for safety and ease of use
  • Teaching strategies for managing everyday tasks.
  • Providing adaptive equipment and tools

13. Assistive Technologies

Assistive technologies may be devices and tools that support individuals with Alzheimer's in their daily lives, promoting independence and safety. Examples include:

  • Memory aids, such as calendars and reminder systems
  • Communication devices
  • GPS tracking devices for those prone to wandering

14. Clinical Trials and Emerging Treatments

Participating in clinical trials for new Alzheimer's treatments may offer access to innovative therapies not yet available to the public. Additionally, emerging treatments, such as stem cell and gene therapy, are being explored as potential options for Alzheimer's management.

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Benefits Of Online Therapy

One benefit of online therapy, specifically music therapy, in the context of Alzheimer's Disease, is its potential to enhance mood and reduce anxiety. Engaging in music therapy sessions, listening to music, or playing a musical instrument may stimulate emotional responses, encourage self-expression, and promote relaxation. This therapeutic approach could help individuals with Alzheimer's Disease experience greater well-being and improved quality of life while fostering cognitive engagement and social interaction. Music therapy may offer a non-pharmacological, creative outlet that addresses both emotional and cognitive aspects of

Effectiveness Of Online Therapy

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine explored the effectiveness of music therapy in improving mood and reducing anxiety among individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. The study found that participants who engaged in music therapy sessions experienced significant improvements in mood, anxiety levels, and overall well-being compared to the control group. These findings suggest that music therapy may provide a practical, non-pharmacological intervention for enhancing the emotional well-being and quality of life of people living with Alzheimer's Disease. The potential benefits of music therapy, as evidenced by this research, highlight the importance of incorporating creative and holistic approaches into treatment plans for individuals with Alzheimer's.

Exploring various Alzheimer's treatment options empowers individuals and their caregivers to create a personalized care plan, fostering a better quality of life and a greater sense of control over the challenges this condition presents.

Source: iStock/Comeback Images


While there might not be a cure for Alzheimer's, numerous treatment approaches are available to help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition. These include medications, therapy-based interventions, assistive technologies, and clinical trials. Additionally, online therapy in the form of music therapy may offer a practical non-pharmacological approach to enhancing mood and reducing anxiety for those living with Alzheimer's Disease. By exploring these options and working closely with healthcare providers, individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and their families may find the most effective strategies for their unique needs.

Explore emotions related to Alzheimer's Disease

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