New understandings about these processes have already provided critical information about how doctors might prevent, delay, stop or even reverse the nerve cell damage that leads to the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer's. All around the world, scientists and pharmaceutical companies are now racing to develop treatments that address the underlying disease processes, some of which (or a combination of which) might effectively solve the Alzheimer's puzzle.
Scientific research is also providing valuable information about how drug and non-drug approaches to treatment can improve day-to-day functioning and maximize quality of life. Drug (pharmacological) treatments currently available are used to manage the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as changes in thinking, memory and perception. They can't stop the disease, but they can slow the progression of symptoms in some people, at least for a while. While drug therapy is important and beneficial, especially in early stages, the management of Alzheimer's has evolved to include non-pharmacological therapies as integral aspects of care. These include various strategies aimed at managing problematic behaviors, including involvement in therapeutic activities, home or "environmental" modifications, and the use of appropriate communication techniques. Support and education for caregivers and family members is also crucial to the best care of people with Alzheimer's.
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