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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a chronic condition marked by memory loss and a decline in mental function. Approximately five million Americans suffer from mild to moderate forms of the disease, but the numbers are still growing. Current treatments for Alzheimer’s include medicines that delay or slow down mental decline and memory loss, but no cure has been found. These medications include cholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine), for mild to moderate cases and memantine for more severe symptoms. These drugs work differently and they may be used in combination for temporary improvement of daily functioning.
Other medications may also be used to treat sleep problems, anxiety, hostile behavior, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations, which sometimes occur in people with Alzheimer’s.