Depression occurs in close to
half of people who have Alzheimer's disease. It is especially common during the
early stages of the disease when a person may be aware of losing his or her
ability to think and function independently. Antidepressants can relieve
symptoms of depression and may improve quality of life, although they will not
slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, is also used to treat depression.
information , see the topic
Treating other causes of dementia
high blood pressure (which can lead to
thyroid problems, or
Parkinson's disease, also can contribute to dementia
in an older person who has Alzheimer's disease. Some of these conditions may
respond well to treatment with medicines.
Medicines used to treat symptoms of mental decline in
people who have moderate Alzheimer's disease include
cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil (Aricept),
galantamine (Razadyne), and rivastigmine (Exelon).
Memantine (Namenda) is a medicine for treating severe
symptoms of confusion and memory loss from Alzheimer's disease. It works
differently than cholinesterase inhibitors. But, like cholinesterase
inhibitors, it does not prevent Alzheimer's disease from progressing. This
medicine may cause dizziness, confusion, headache, and/or constipation in some
Other medicines may be tried to treat anxiety,
agitated or hostile behavior, sleep problems, frightening or disruptive false
beliefs (delusions), suspicion of others (paranoia), or hallucinations (seeing
or hearing things that aren't there).
What To Think About
Close monitoring and regular
reevaluation of the person who has Alzheimer's disease are very important during
treatment with medicine. As the disease progresses and symptoms change, the
person's medicine needs often change. If you are a caregiver for someone with
Alzheimer's disease, be alert for adverse drug reactions or side effects that
further impair the person's ability to function.
to manage behavior problems with a medicine, try to figure out what is causing
the behavior. Understanding why a person is behaving in a certain way can point
to better ways of dealing with that behavior. If you are able to find other
ways of dealing with behavior problems, you may be able to avoid treatment with
medicine and the side effects and costs that come with it.
don't know for sure that cholinesterase inhibitors help with behavior problems
in people who have Alzheimer's disease.8 Some studies
show that these medicines do help, which can mean less burden on
caregivers.9 If that burden is reduced, people who
have Alzheimer's may be able to live at home longer.
show that cholinesterase inhibitors do not help with behavior.10, 11 But these medicines may still help
some people with memory and daily functioning.
(Exelon) can now be given through a skin patch. Skin patches release medicine
into the blood at a steady level and may reduce side effects. And when the
person uses a skin patch, it’s easier for caregivers to make sure a person is
taking the medicine properly.