Easing the burden of Alzheimer's disease: Therapeutic options

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The loss of ability to function, as well as abnormal behavioural symptoms that accompany cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease, place a steadily intensifying burden upon caregivers to provide for patients' needs. This burden frequently manifests among caregivers as ill-health and depression. The rapidly growing numbers of demented patients in the population means that society, too, is faced with increasingly intractable issues concerning health resource allocation. As the greatest part of the cost of caring for an Alzheimer's disease patient is incurred by their institutionalization, the maintenance of demented patients in the community for as long as possible is a desirable goal from a health economic perspective. A vital part of this strategy is the development of effective symptomatic treatments. Such treatment may modulate the behavioural symptoms of Alzheimer's disease that are the major indicator of institutionalization, or may preserve a patient's function, enabling them to live independently, or cared for at home for longer periods before institutionalization is warranted. Several different pharmacological strategies for managing Alzheimer's disease are currently being investigated. While there is some evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oestrogen can act as protective agents against Alzheimer's disease, cholinergic therapy represents the best approach to the symptomatic treatment of the disease; cholinesterase inhibitors have been demonstrated to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in a number of large-scale clinical trials. However, antioxidants such as vitamin E have also demonstrated efficacy in some studies. The findings of these key areas of therapeutic enquiry are described in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S19-S29
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Antioxidants
  • Burden
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Donepezil
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Oestrogen
  • Protective factors
  • Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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