Alzheimer’s Treatment Options: The 14 Most Common Approaches

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Alzheimer's disease gradually impacts memory, cognitive function, and behavior as it progresses, which brings challenges for those affected and their loved ones. While there may not be a cure for this neurodegenerative condition, many treatment options exist to help manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and slow the disease's progress. 

This article delves into 14 of the most common approaches to Alzheimer's treatment and provides guidance and support for individuals and caregivers navigating this difficult journey.

Interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s treatment options?

1. Medications for cognitive symptoms

Several medications have been approved to help manage cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's, including the following:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: Some of these medications work by increasing the levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning.
  • Memantine: This medication helps control 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 experiences with agitation, anxiety, and depression, may be managed with medications, including:

  • Antidepressants: These medications are often used to help manage 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 rehabilitation are non-pharmacological approaches aiming to improve cognitive function and decrease cognitive decline. These approaches may include:

  • Cognitive stimulation therapy: A structured program 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.

Choosing appropriate exercises based on the individual's physical abilities and preferences may be helpful.

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.

6. Sleep management

sleep might be beneficial 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 symptoms of cognitive decline and improve overall well-being. Support groups, both for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, may 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, which can improve 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, that may improve 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.

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 is needed to understand these practices' effectiveness 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:

  • 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 are devices and tools that may 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 provide opportunities for 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.

Interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s treatment options?

Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can connect people with Alzheimer’s to licensed therapists who can work with them to manage their emotional and cognitive symptoms. There may be plenty of options and strategies a therapist can use to suit the specific needs of their patients, including guidance on the above approaches. 

From helping their clients find support groups to music and art therapy, therapists can also provide individuals with Alzheimer’s with someone to talk to on the good and difficult days. Sometimes, having someone listen to your challenges and experiences can relieve the stress, anxiety, and loneliness that comes with the other challenging symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

A study on the effectiveness of internet-based therapy vs. in-person treatment showed that online sessions were comparable to face-to-face meetings for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Another benefit to online therapy is that clients can join sessions from the comfort of their homes without the stress of traveling or relying on someone to drive them to an office. Home therapy can help those with Alzheimer’s feel more independent and in control of their schedule.

Exploring various Alzheimer's treatment options can empower 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.


While there might not be a cure for Alzheimer's, numerous treatment approaches are available to help manage symptoms and potentially improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition. These include medications, therapy-based interventions, assistive technologies, and clinical trials.

Additionally, online 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. Try out BetterHelp and see what they have to offer.

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