Treatment options in Alzheimer's disease: maximizing benefit, managing expectations

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2008;25(5):408-22. doi: 10.1159/000122962. Epub 2008 Apr 3.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is becoming an increasingly heavy burden on the society of developed countries, and physicians now face the challenge of providing efficient treatment regimens to an ever-higher number of individuals affected by the disease. Currently approved anti-AD therapies - the cholinesterase inhibitors and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine - offer modest symptomatic relief, which can be enhanced using combination therapy with both classes of drugs. Additionally, alternative therapies such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamin E, selegiline, Ginkgo biloba extracts, estrogens, and statins, as well as behavioral and lifestyle changes, have been explored as therapeutic options. Until a therapy is developed that can prevent or reverse the disease, the optimal goal for effective AD management is to develop a treatment regimen that will yield maximum benefits for individual patients across multiple domains, including cognition, daily functioning, and behavior, and to provide realistic expectations for patients and caregivers throughout the course of the disease. This review provides a basic overview of approved AD therapies, discusses some pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment strategies that are currently being investigated, and offers suggestions for optimizing treatment to fit the needs of individual patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts