Most diseases that cause dementia are progressive, which means that people with the disease get worse over time. Unfortunately, cures for most causes of dementia don't exist. Some medications, however, can temporarily improve symptoms and functioning and may slow the progression of the basic disease process.
Efforts to find effective drug therapies for dementia have frustrated scientists. Many drugs used for dementia are limited by their low levels of effectiveness -- and the difficulty of evaluating how well they work -- along with their side effects, short duration of action, and the need for periodic monitoring of blood tests to prevent toxicity. Researchers are working on dementia medications that will be better tolerated and more effective as well as strategies such as brain exercises and dietary and lifestyle factors that may help lower the chances of someone developing dementia in old age.