Drug Treatments for Dementia - dummies

By Simon Atkins

Part of Dementia For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Sadly, no cure exists for this condition, but a handful of medicines has been developed to help slow its progress. The drug treatments initially were designed specifically to help people with Alzheimer’s disease, but some specialists use them in people with a mixture of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

The following table shows the four available drugs, the method of taking them, and the most common side effects to look out for.

Name Method of Taking Most Common Side Effects
Donepezil (Aricept) Ordinary tablets
Melt-in-the-mouth tablets
Upset stomach, headaches, agitation, hallucinations, fatigue,
insomnia, giddiness
Galantamine (Reminyl) Ordinary tablets
Slow-release tablets
Upset stomach, indigestion, poor appetite, weight loss,
headache, dizziness, hallucinations, high blood pressure and slow
Rivastigmine (Exelon) Capsules
Upset stomach, poor appetite, weight loss, headache, dizziness,
drowsiness, nervousness, tremor, confusion, insomnia, slow pulse,
symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Memantine (Ebixa) Ordinary tablets
Constipation, raised blood pressure, headache, dizziness,
drowsiness, shortness of breath