Treating Dementia and Associated Symptons

Last Updated: September 01, 2018

Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of 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.


Medications Used to Treat 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 medication information below). According to the National Institute on Aging, medications work best on persons with early to mid stage dementia. As to date, there has not been a published study that offers comparisons of these drugs. Therefore, there is no strong evidence that one medication is superior to another. That said, these medications reduce symptoms in a similar way and changing from one to another likely will not produce remarkably different outcomes.

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:

Medication: Cholinesterase Inhibitors – Aricept®, Razadyne® (formerly Reminyl®), Exelon®

Medication: Memantine – Namenda®

Medication: CBD (Cannabidiol)

Other Medications – For anxiety, depression, psychosis, and to assist with sleep

Other Forms of Treatment – Herbal and dietary supplements, alternative therapies


What’s New in Treatments?

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 Clinical Studies page. For more specific information on clinical trials that are currently underway, the National Institute on Aging provides highlights of the 100+ current Alzheimer’s studies and has an Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trials Database where 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.