Medications Used to Treat Dementia

If you or a loved one are living with dementia, or have recently been diagnosed, you may be unsure of what your treatment options are. Unfortunately, there’s not yet a way to cure dementia, but we can manage some symptoms. Often, we try to manage the symptoms of dementia holistically, however, sometimes that’s simply not possible. This is when medications can become helpful. According to Winsome McLeod, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Stuart, a Memory Care community in Stuart, Florida, those with dementia face a wide range of symptoms. “From behavioral and emotional symptoms like anger and agitation, depression and anxiety to insomnia, pain, hallucinations and incontinence, medications can temporarily help to improve symptoms,” says Winsome. “While we often push for non-drug interventions, the comfort and happiness of our loved ones are most important and that means working closely with their doctor and care team to create a plan. As a caregiver, friend or family member to someone with dementia, it can also help to understand what medications are available, what they do and what side effects commonly occur alongside them to help support them and keep them as well as possible.”

What Medications Are Available for Those with Dementia?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, there are two types of medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These include cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

The Alzheimer’s Association states that Cholinesterase Inhibitors treat “symptoms related to memory, thinking, language, judgment and other thought processes.” It also states that they:

  • Prevent the chemical breakdown of acetylcholine, which allows communication among nerve cells to be supported
  • Delay or slow worsening of symptoms
  • Have fewer side effects than other medicines

The most-prescribed medications include Donepezil, which is approved to treat all stages of Alzheimer's and Rivastigmine and Galantamine, which are approved to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's.


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this medication is used to treat moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This medication is used to:

  • Improve memory, attention, reason, language and the ability to perform simple tasks
  • Regulate glutamate, a chemical involved in information processing
  • Enhance mental function
  • Improve the ability to perform daily activities

Memantine can be used with or without cholinesterase inhibitors to improve symptoms of dementia. Common side effects often include headache, constipation, dizziness and confusion. It’s important to keep in mind that medications may not work for everyone. Evaluate yourself or a loved one closely for adverse reactions to medication, worsening health problems and new issues. Be sure to talk to your loved one’s doctor to come up with the best plan for them. For more information about medications and dementia, education on holistic approaches to care or to schedule a tour, contact our team today at 772-207-4191.

Designed for You. Defined by You.

YourLife™ of Stuart was created with one purpose – to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. As Memory Care specialists, we focus all our energy, attention and resources to creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality, while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We see each resident as an individual, understanding that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities. With that information, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. Through our signature programming, YourStory, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and health and wellness programming, scheduled outings and other special events to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Stuart, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 772-207-4191 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.