Unfortunately, there are currently no medications that can reverse or halt disease progression for most of the dementias. However, there are four clinically tested Alzheimer’s disease (AD) medications approved by the FDA that have been shown to provide some modest behavioral or cognitive benefit, namely, donepezil (Aricept), dalantamine (e.g., razadyne), memantine (e.g., Namenda) and rivastigmine (e.g., Exelon).

The effectiveness of these four medications is highly variable, and that effect tends to diminish over time. There is also research suggesting that some of the AD medications may provide some benefit for vascular dementias, such as galantamine (Razadyne), and Parkinson's dementia, such as donepezil (Aricept). Additional medications may be prescribed to alleviate some related symptoms, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, sleep aids, and antipsychotics.

Here are some of the commonly prescribed medications and their uses:

Generic Name (Brand Name Example)

 

Medication Use

Donepezil (Aricept)

 

Used to delay or slow the symptoms of AD.
• loses its effect over time
• used for mild, moderate and severe AD
• does not prevent or cure AD

* May help reduce behavioral symptoms in some people with Parkinson's dementia.

Galantamine (Razadyne)

 

Used to prevent or slow the symptoms of AD.
• loses its effect over time
• used for mild to moderate AD
• comes in pill form or as a skin patch
• does not prevent or cure AD

* May provide some benefit for vascular dementias.

Memantine (Namenda)

 

Used to delay or slow the symptoms of AD.
• loses its effect over time
• used for moderate to severe AD
• sometimes given with Aricept, Exelon, or Razadyne
• does not prevent or cure AD

Rivastigmine (Exelon)

Used to prevent or slow the symptoms of AD.
• loses its effect over time
• used for mild to moderate AD
• comes in pill form or as a skin patch
• does not prevent or cure AD

Citalopram (Celexa)

 

Used to reduce depression and anxiety.
• may take four to six weeks to work
• sometimes used to help people get to sleep

Sodium valproate (Depakote)

 

Used to treat severe aggression.
• also used to treat depression and anxiety

Mirtazepine (Remeron)

Used to reduce depression and anxiety.
• may take four to six weeks to work
• sometimes used to help people get to sleep

Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

 

Used to treat seizures
• also used to treat depression and anxiety

Sertraline (Zoloft)

 

Used to reduce depression and anxiety.
• may take four to six weeks to work
• sometimes used to help people get to sleep