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Most Common Dementia Medications Doctors Prescribe

While medicines prescribed for dementia do not cure the condition, they can help minimize cognitive impairment and memory loss. The medications do not provide effective results for everyone and may cause some seniors with dementia to experience side effects. However, many of these side effects subside within a few weeks. Sacramento home care experts discuss a few of the most commonly prescribed medications for dementia.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

Physicians prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors to alleviate symptoms related to judgment, language, memory, and thinking processes. About 50 percent of seniors with dementia experience a delay in the progression of symptoms for up to one year after taking this medicine. Cholinesterase inhibitors prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and ensure proper neuron communication. Seniors with dementia may find these medications cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, general fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, and appetite loss. Medications in this category include: 

  • Donepezil, which is used for mild to severe dementia
  • Rivastigmine, which is prescribed for mild to moderate dementia
  • Galantamine, which treats mild to moderate dementia

NMDA Receptor Antagonists

Memantine is one of the newer medications manufactured to alleviate dementia symptoms. The formulation prevents the amino acid glutamate, which is thought to play a role in the development of dementia symptoms, from binding with the NMDA receptor sites. This medication might be prescribed on its own or in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor. Some studies indicate that seniors diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia benefit from the combination of NMDA receptor antagonists and cholinesterase inhibitors, which can be found in a medication called namzaric. Side effects of NMDA drugs include headaches, constipation, increased confusion, and dizziness. 

Other Medicines

If seniors with dementia have anxiety or depression, a doctor might prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms. In the event the dementia has been caused by impaired supply of blood to the brain, the individual with the condition might be required to take daily aspirin or another anticoagulant. Sedative hypnotics are helpful for alleviating insomnia, and antipsychotic medications are used in extreme cases of agitation.

If your senior loved one is living with dementia and you’d like to learn more about the condition, reach out to the Sacramento dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance. All of our dedicated caregivers are trained in our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method, an activities-based program designed to help slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Call 916.706.0169 today to speak with a knowledgeable Care Manager and schedule a no-obligation consultation.