Alzheimer’s disease destroys the connections in the brain responsible for memory and other mental functions. This causes a loss of memory, confusion, and a decline in everyday self-care skills.
Currently, there’s no way to reverse Alzheimer’s disease. However, newer treatments may slow down its progression.
New studies are showing promising results that indicate the potential to reverse Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
There’s no way to reverse or cure Alzheimer’s disease. However, scientists have made incredible progress in recent years.
New Alzheimer’s treatments may slow disease progression and reduce symptoms. They can help people stay independent and keep functional skills for longer than they’d be able to without treatment.
While many treatment options are still in development, current
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (or cholinesterase inhibitors) can help improve cognition and reduce behavioral symptoms. They prevent the breakdown of important brain chemicals used in memory and thinking. Donepezil is an enzyme-blocking acetylcholinesterase inhibitor known to reduce confusion in people with Alzheimer’s.
- Aducanumab. Aducanumab is a newly approved medication that targets the brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s. These lesions are called amyloid plaques. Aducanumab was approved through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Accelerated Approval Programin 2021 for early stage Alzheimer’s, and several similar medications are currently being tested.
- Memantine. This is a class of medication known as NMDA Antagonists. Memantine can delay increasing cognitive and behavioral symptoms caused by moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.
Medications with the potential to reverse Alzheimer’s are also being studied. For instance, a
These results haven’t yet been replicated in other studies or tested in humans, but they’re good examples of how far Alzheimer’s research has come.
A decade from now, treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease might look completely different from today.
There’s no diet or supplement that can reverse Alzheimer’s, but there’s some evidence that diet can play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Specifically, there seems to be a link between the Mediterranean diet and memory. Since high blood pressure is known to be an additional risk for Alzheimer’s, the MIND diet is sometimes recommended. The MIND diet is a variation of the Mediterranean diet that blends it with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
Following the MIND diet involves cooking with olive oil and eating more:
- leafy green vegetables
- all vegetables
- whole grains
- wine (one glass a day and only if recommended by your doctor and appropriate for your health)
People who are following the MIND diet are advised to limit:
- sweets and sugars
- red meat
- fast food and convenience items
- fried food
Evidence to support following a Mediterranean or MIND diet to improve memory and cognition isn’t definitive. Studies have been done, but they aren’t conclusive. These diets won’t reverse any Alzheimer’s symptoms, and it’s still unclear whether they’ll reduce your risk.
However, the foods suggested in these diets have high nutritional value. This could offer benefits for your overall health in addition to the possibility of lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s.
Supplements for Alzheimer’s disease
There are many supplements and products that claim to be able to slow down, reverse, cure, prevent, or treat Alzheimer’s disease. None of these claims are backed by research or supported by the FDA.
Currently, there are only two supplements that have any studied benefit:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies have shown that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the omega-3 fatty acid found in certain kinds of fish, might reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
However, there haven’t been enough studies to fully support this claim, and the FDA doesn’t recommend DHA as a treatment or as a preventive supplement against Alzheimer’s.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a lipid or fat found in the membranes around nerve cells. Like DHA, a few small studies have shown promising results, but they don’t offer enough evidence to support it as a treatment or preventive option for Alzheimer’s.
Currently, the FDA allows products with phosphatidylserine to carry the following
Alzheimer’s disease is likely a result of multiple factors such as genetics, age, lifestyle, and environment. Researchers are currently working on identifying some of the genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
For now, everyone can take steps to control the known lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. These include:
- Staying active. Regular physical exercise has been shown to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease as exercise increases blood flow to your brain and keeps your heart strong.
- Eating a nutritious diet. A diet such as the Mediterranean diet or an overall heart-healthy diet can help reduce your risk. There’s a strong link between conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a moderate weight can help you protect your heart and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Maintaining social connections. Staying in touch with friends and family can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. It can also help to volunteer locally or join a social group to meet new people.
- Avoiding head injuries. People who’ve experienced head trauma that involved a loss of consciousness appear to be at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s. Taking extra safety precautions to avoid injury can help you reduce this risk.
- Treating hearing loss. Hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Treating and managing hearing deficits can help reduce this risk.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking is linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s. Quitting can reduce your risk.
- Learning a new skill. Taking a class, learning a new language, or picking up a new skill is a great way to help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Challenging yourself. Taking on new projects around your home, playing strategy games, completing puzzles, and doing other tasks that require you to work through a plan can help you keep your mind active.
- Getting a good night’s sleep. Your brain needs rest to function and maintain health. It’s important to get enough sleep and not ignore problems with sleep such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or night sweats.
- Managing your mental health. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns are sometimes linked to cognitive decline. Reach out to a therapist and find the right treatment or medications for you, if needed.
The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can change as the disease progresses.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult to tell that anything has changed. Symptoms will be mild and the person with Alzheimer’s will seem healthy. Often, close friends and family members will notice signs that become a pattern.
While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, early diagnosis offers the best treatment options. With treatments, you may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s and reduce its symptoms.
It’s important to see a doctor for evaluation if you notice any signs of early Alzheimer’s.
Signs of early Alzheimer’s disease may include:
- reduced judgment and decision-making skills
- asking the same questions repeatedly
- memory loss
- resistance to changes in routine
- wandering or getting lost in familiar places
- having trouble with money and bill payment
- frequently losing or misplacing things
- reduced drive and ambition
- increasing the time needed to complete everyday tasks
- increasing anxiety or aggression
- changes in mood or personality
As Alzheimer’s progresses, people often need more supervision and care. People with moderate Alzheimer’s might need full-time care, and changes in behavior and personality might overwhelm family caregivers.
Signs of moderate Alzheimer’s disease may include:
- reduced attention span
- increased memory loss
- increased trouble recognizing friends and family
- increased trouble adapting to changes in routine or environment
- increased confusion
- making repetitive statements or motions
- difficulty reading, writing, and using numbers
- difficulty with logical thinking and thought organization
- difficulty learning or keeping new information
- difficulty completing tasks that involve multiple steps
- increased anxiety, agitation, and anger that might include outbursts of yelling or crying
- inappropriate behaviors such as undressing in public, aggression, or out-of-character vulgar language.
- wandering and getting lost frequently
- hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
- symptoms that get worse in the late afternoon
People with severe Alzheimer’s lose their ability to communicate and care for themselves. At this stage, people with Alzheimer’s often spend most of their time in bed and need assistance with nearly all tasks.
Additional symptoms of severe Alzheimer’s disease include:
- loss of ability to communicate
- weight loss
- difficulty swallowing
- bladder or bowel incontinence
- frequent groaning or moaning sounds
- increased sleeping
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s and no way to reverse the disease. However, new treatment options may slow Alzheimer’s progression and reduce symptoms. Researchers are making headway on treatments that could reverse Alzheimer’s in the future.
You can take steps to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by taking care of your overall health. There’s a strong link between heart health and Alzheimer’s, and by keeping active, maintaining a moderate weight, eating healthily, and quitting smoking, you can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Keep your mind active by taking classes, playing strategy games, volunteering, or staying in touch with friends and family.
If you notice any early signs of Alzheimer’s, it’s best to make a doctor’s appointment. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s at any stage, but Alzheimer’s is most treatable when it’s diagnosed early.