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Should I take medications to treat Alzheimer's disease?

Introduction

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 difficulty.
  • 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 medications.
  • 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 progressing.
  • Medications may be expensive.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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