Memory loss is one of the most recognized signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Although there’s no way to slow down or stop the progression of the disease, there are medications that can help with memory loss and confusion and improve cognitive ability. These medications activate certain brain chemicals that influence the signals between nerves, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Early to Moderate Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
A class of medications called cholinesterase inhibitors is used to treat cognitive issues in early to moderate stage Alzheimer’s. These work by slowing down or delaying the deterioration of the chemical messenger acetylcholine and are generally well tolerated, although some patients report side effects such as nausea, vomiting, increased bowel movements and loss of appetite.
The three most commonly prescribed forms of cholinesterase inhibitors are:
- Donepezil (Aricept)
- Rivastigmine (Exelon)
- Galantamine (Razadyne)
Moderate to Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
As the disease progresses, memory loss and other cognitive issues will become more pronounced. Along with cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil, another type of medication, memantine (Namenda), can also be prescribed for patients with moderate to late stage Alzheimer’s. Memantine regulates the activity of the brain chemical called glutamate which is responsible for the storing, processing and retrieving of memories. It can improve cognitive function and allow people to carry out their daily activities easier.
Some of the possible side effects of memantine include headaches, dizziness, confusion and constipation.
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