Synthetic marijuana and brighter lights could help improve the lives of people with dementia, according to new research presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are best known for the breakdown in cognitive abilities. But a host of other symptoms — including agitation, anxiety, depression, and insomnia — reduce patients’ quality of life, create more challenges for caregivers and are the leading causes for placement in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drug treatments for these symptoms, although some pharmaceuticals, such as antipsychotics, approved for other diseases are prescribed off-label for Alzheimer’s patients. However, they are associated with increased apathy, strokes and deaths.

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