Other Medications

Did You Know

The purpose of these medications is to protect and promote the safety and well-being of the individuals with dementia and those around them. There are often ways to address the problematic behaviors and symptoms that can reduce the need for medication. However, these decisions are best made in cooperation with your loved one's physician. Additionally, particular forms of dementia may not benefit as well from some of these medications, so be sure that you and your physician are aware of the individual's diagnosis and its particular needs.

Medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, work to slow the progression of dementia in the brain. Individuals with dementia may also be prescribed medications that help deal with difficult behaviors and problems that arise as a result of the disease.

The other most commonly prescribed medications are listed below:

Anti-anxiety Medications

Dementia can be a frightening and upsetting process for individuals as they lose their abilities and independence. If the anxiety is mild, it can be managed without medication, for instance by finding ways to relieve stress through exercise or meditation. However, more severe responses, such as panic attacks and emotional outbursts, may need to be treated with anxiolytics, medications that help calm and relax.

Common Drugs (Generic Name):

  • Ativan® (lorazepam)
  • Buspar® (buspirone)
  • Klonopin® (clonazepam)
  • Serax® (oxazepam)
  • Valium® (diazepam)
  • Xanax® (alprazolam)

Antidepressants

Many individuals with dementia also experience depression. Loss of independence, difficulty interacting with others, and loss of mobility can result in a loss of appetite, fatigue, and a lack of interest in daily activities. Antidepressants may help improve both mood and function for these people.

Common Drugs (Generic Name):

  • Aventyl® (nortriptyline)
  • Celexa® (citalopram)
  • Effexor® (venlafaxine)
  • Paxil® (paroxetine)
  • Prozac® (flouxetine)
  • Zoloft® (sertraline)

Antipsychotics

As dementia progresses, a person's grasp on the difference between fact and fiction, real and imagined, sometimes becomes blurred. As this happens, people with dementia may have hallucinations or believe that other people are "out to get them." Sometimes, the person may become agitated, uncooperative, or even hostile. Antipsychotic medications are prescribed in these more serious cases to help manage these difficult behaviors (and when anti-anxiety medication are not enough).

Common Drugs (Generic Name):

  • Abilify® (aripiprazole)
  • Clozaril® (clozapine)
  • Geodon® (ziprasidone)
  • Risperdal® (risperidone)
  • Seroquel® (quetiapine)
  • Zyprexa® (olanzepine)

Sleep Medications

Individuals with dementia can also have difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep. Many of the medications commonly prescribed to dementia patients can fatigue them during the day, which may make it harder for them to get to sleep or to sleep through the night. Some caregivers find it useful to limit the number of naps that their loved ones take during the day. If increasing their daily activity does not help, hypnotics may help people with dementia get restful sleep.

Common Drugs (Generic Name):

  • Ambien® (zolpidem)
  • Restoril® (temazepam)
  • Sonata® (zaleplon)
Resources
Source: 
Alzheimer's Association
Description: 
This web page examines some of the behaviors and psychiatric issues that may arise for someone with dementia and how to treat them, both with medications and non-medical interventions.
Source: 
Alzehimer's Society (United Kingdom)
Description: 
This fact sheet provides information regarding available options for treating behavioral symptoms attributed to dementia, including depression, aggression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. Drugs used for treating each symptom are discussed, as well as the possible side effects of each. Antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and antidementia types of drugs are discussed.
Source: 
Alzheimer's Association
Description: 
This web page discusses the sleep changes that someone with Alzheimer's may experience, such as difficulty sleeping and shifts in the sleep-wake cycle. Treatments of sleep changes are discussed, including the medications and non-drug treatments available .
Source: 
Alzehimer's Society (United Kingdom)
Description: 
This fact sheet provides information regarding available options for treating behavioral symptoms attributed to dementia, including depression, aggression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. Drugs used for treating each symptom are discussed, as well as the possible side effects of each. Antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and antidementia types of drugs are discussed.