Medical treatments for dementia

rainbowFor all people with dementia it is important to maximise health as abilities will be affected by general health problems, and the rate of progression will be driven by the presence of other medical problems. Keeping the person with dementia as fit as possible is therefore something that our medical specialists and or GP will advise on. This may mean changing medication that is being taken to ensure that it is as "dementia friendly" as possible and is necessary. It may mean adding in some extra pain relief or treating other conditions such as low mood or anxiety.

There are some specific treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body and Parkinson's dementia only. These are called cholinesterase inhibitors such as Donepezil, Galantamine and Rivastigmine, and another class of drug called Memantine.

In these three dementias there is a lower level of a specific brain chemical called acetylcholine and the first three drugs all help to improve the levels of this back to normal. This low level is caused as cells that are affected by the three diseases go through a long process of dying. We can help them to work better but we cannot stop the damage being caused and the cells will eventually die. So the drugs are not cures but can improve thinking and function for a period of time. Memantine is a drug which affects glutamate, another chemical found in the brain. Cells that are damaged and dying release more glutamate than usual and this affects surrounding cells causing them to also work abnormally. Changing the amount of glutamate to more normal levels can be helpful.

Details of the drugs mentioned can be found here

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