In addition to the treatments already in use, there are new drugs and therapies in development for treating dementia. You can read more about the general process of how clinical trials and studies work on the Alzheimer's Association's Clinical Studies page. For more specific information on clinical trials that are currently underway, the National Institute on Aging provides highlights of the over 30 current AD studies and has a Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials Databasewhere you can search for trials in your area or trials for a particular diagnosis or treatment. Also visit the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study's website to learn about this organization's work in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging to test new drugs to treat both the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but there are several medications available to help treat the symptoms of dementia. Some medications attempt to improve the brain’s functioning and slow the progression of symptoms; others may be prescribed to control mood, psychosis, or sleep problems. A number of non-prescription drug treatments may also be of benefit to a person with dementia.
Doctors base the choice of medication on the individual patient’s needs. They consider factors such as a medication’s side effects, ease of use, and cost. Some research has shown that certain medications are more effective at earlier or later stages of dementia (see the description of each medication, below). However a recent review of the literature concluded that, so far, there is no strong evidence that one medication is better than another; differences may exist, but there is a need for further research (Qaseem, 2008).
Follow the links below to learn about prescription medications, supplements, and alternative therapies commonly used to treat dementia. The most commonly prescribed medications for improving cognition and slowing the progression of dementia are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Learn more:
Assistance with daily living and psychosocial support are also part of comprehensive treatment and are covered in the Caregiver Tips section.
Qaseem A, et al. Current pharmacologic treatment of dementia: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008; Mar 4;148(5):I41.