Should I take medications to treat Alzheimer's disease?
This information will help you understand your choices, whether you share in
the decision-making process or rely on your doctor's recommendation
Key points in making your decision
Deciding whether and when to treat Alzheimer's disease with medications can
be a difficult decision. Assessing the severity of your condition can help you
decide whether medications are right for you. Consider the following when
making your decision:
- Your symptoms interfere with your daily living and are more bothersome than
the potential side effects of the medication, so taking medications may be a
good choice for you.
- Disruptive behaviors may be manageable without medications. If behavior
problems can be managed in other ways, you may be able to avoid treatment with
medication and the side effects and costs that come with it.
- Treatment with a cholinesterase inhibitor may reduce the burden on
caregivers by producing small improvements in your memory and general ability
to function.1 For example, you may be
able to remember friends' names better and be able to dress yourself with less
- Medications for Alzheimer's disease do not work for everyone who takes
them, and their effectiveness is not always dramatic. Even if they do initially
reduce your symptoms, the medications eventually will no longer control the
progressive symptoms of memory problems, behavioral and personality changes,
and thinking problems caused by Alzheimer's disease.
- Medications can relieve your symptoms and restore your ability to function.
You can temporarily improve your physical and mental health by taking
- While medications may reduce the severity of your Alzheimer's
symptoms—thinking and memory problems, and personality changes—they will not
completely eliminate the symptoms nor will they prevent the disease from
- Medications may be expensive.