Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease typically starts with a cholinesterase inhibitor. These medications are: Donepizill (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon), and Galantamine (Razadyne or Razadyne ER). Cholinesterase inhibitors help to prevent acetylocine from breaking down. Acetylocine is a chemical in the brain that helps with memory and thinking. Cholinesterase inhibitors are used only in mild and moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memantine is added to cholinesterase in severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine helps to regulate glutamoate. Glutomate is a chemical in the brain that helps process, store, and retrieve information. Other medications to help handle the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are also used.
There are a number of medications that are used to treat the different symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Mild sedatives and antidepressants are used to control behavior problems, depression, and anxiety. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Paroxetine, Sertaline, Citalopram, Escitalopram, and Floxetine are commonly used. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has warnings against the use of antipsychotics to treat Alzheimer’s disease patients because of the side effects.
Benzodiazepine should be avoided. This medication interferes with memory and can cause agitation.
Additional resource that provide more information on drugs and medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease
- FDA Approved Treatments for Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Association)
- Alzheimer’s Disease Medication Fact Sheet (National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging)
- Alzheimer’s Treatments (Alzheimer’s Disease Research)
- Medications for Memory Loss (Alzheimer’s Association)
- Drugs@FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) *** This page isn’t specifically about Alzheimer’s disease medications. But, you can search for a medication and find more information about it.