The treatment of dementia may require a variety of medications to relieve symptoms and slow its progression. The first line of treatment involves using drugs for dementia called cholinesterase inhibitors to increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. These medications have potential side effects that are reviewed with each patient and are monitored during treatment.
Cholinesterase inhibitors do not cure dementia, but have been shown to slow the progression of memory loss. In addition, they can help with behavioral symptoms that often accompany dementia, such as agitation. Some patients experience agitation at certain times of day that can be particularly frustrating and confusing for them and their caregivers. For more moderate or severe dementia, other medications can be used with cholinesterase inhibitors.
Individuals with dementia also can suffer from depression alongside the agitation. We use medications to treat these problems as well provide suggestions on environmental and caregiver interventions that can help manage these problems. For example, music can often be soothing for those with dementia and can be played as patients fall asleep or eat. A combination of medical treatments and caregiver adjustments can help patients feel more comfortable dealing with the symptoms of dementia.