Treating underlying conditions such as depression may bring about a marked improvment in patient wellbeing, though the alzheimers is still advancing
Two critical crossroads reached in the approach to treatment for Alzheimer's disease were (1) the recognition of Alzheimer's disease as a disorder distinct from the normal aging process; and (2) the realization that, in developing therapeutic and social interventions for a major illness or disability, the concept of care can be as important as that of cure.
Moreover, in addition to the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease mentioned earlier, other symptoms and aggravating factors may compound the problem.
Patient, environmental, and family stresses can converge to exaggerate patient dysfunction and family burden during the clinical course of Alzheimer's disease.
Identifying these stresses and making appropriate changes can provide the foundation for more effective treatment and fewer everyday problems.
In the Alzheimer's disease patient, depression or delusions can aggravate dysfunction. These problems, which emerge during the course of the disorder in some individuals with Alzheimer's disease, compound memory impairment; they make the affected individual do worse than would be expected from the dementia alone–causing clinical conditions referred to as "excess disability" states.
Depression by itself can mimic dementia–a condition that is sometimes termed pseudodementia. When combined with dementia, depression exacts yet greater incapacity and suffering in the Alzheimer's disease patient.
Depression in Alzheimer's disease can be treated. Indeed this highlights one of the truly extraordinary phenomena that can be observed in Alzheimer's disease: By alleviating an excess disability state, actual clinical improvement can result–even though the underlying disease process is advancing. In other words, at a given point in time, the patient's symptoms can be reduced, suffering lowered, capacity to cope buttressed, with family burden eased as a further result. These are traditional goals of treatment for all illnesses.