Thanks to longer life expectancy, the senior population is steadily
growing in the United States. A 2010 report from the Alzheimer's
Association estimates that, by 2030, the 65+ population will be 71
million — double what it is today. By then, the number of people
with Alzheimer's disease will be 7.7 million, more than a 50%
increase from the 5.1 million people ages 65 and over currently
suffering from the disease.
Because age is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer's,
efforts to develop effective therapies are more important than
ever. However, while there are a variety of therapies on the
horizon, some in the form of new drugs that may quell the disease
by blocking the chain of events that underlies its destructive
process, truly effective therapies remain years away. Available
medications can only alleviate symptoms temporarily; no current
treatments prevent or stop cognitive deterioration due to
Alzheimer's. A number of medications can help with behavior
problems in this illness, such as outbursts of anger. But these are
best used in conjunction with environmental approaches, such as
simplifying the home environment.
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.