The term dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a number of symptoms including memory impairment, language and reasoning problems as well changes to mood and personality. These symptoms are progressive – implying that they gradually get worse. As yet there are no drug treatments that can offer a cure for dementia. However some
drugs have been developed to help improve some of the symptoms or temporarily stabilise
cognitive functioning thereby slowing down the progression of the condition. These drugs
are mainly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but can also be prescribed by doctors for
other forms of dementia. Dementia can be associated with conditions such as depression
and agitation and these conditions should be treated separately if they are causing distress.
Cholinesterase Inhibitors
Drug name
Common name
Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon are licensed for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They are not thought to be effective for the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease. All three drugs work in a similar way by inhibiting an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) from breaking down the chemical (acetylcholine) that helps the nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. What effect can these drugs have?
These drugs can help with memory loss, improve alertness and motivation. All three cholinesterase inhibitors work in a similar way, but one might suit an individual better than the other. It may take some months for the medication to have an effect. Might the drugs have side effects?
Yes, they might. The most common side effects are sleep disturbance, a loss of appetite, feeling sick and drowsy and muscle cramps. Some of these side effects can be alleviated Concilio Dementia document – Managing Dementia - Reading March 2013 v1 by taking the medicine after food, and always following the prescribing instructions of your GP or Pharmacist. Who can prescribe these drugs?
These drugs are initially prescribed by a specialist following your assessment at the memory clinic and any other tests that might have been required before confirmation of the diagnosis. It is important that before medication is prescribed, there is a discussion between the specialist, person with dementia and the carer as to the reality of what medication can offer and potential side effects of medication. NMDA receptor Antagonist
Drug name
Common name
Ebixa works quite differently to the Cholinesterase Inhibitors. It is thought to work by affecting a chemical in the brain called glutamate. The brain cells damaged by Alzheimer’s disease release an excessive amount of glutamate and this causes the brain cells to be damaged even further. Ebixa can protect brain cells by blocking the effects of excess glutamate Ebixa can also have side effects of sickness, restlessness, stomach ache and headaches. Across West Berkshire action has been taken to reduce the inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic drugs and medication for people with dementia and generally prescribing levels are low. The prevalence of both depression and psychosis are high for people with dementia and people with dementia are increasingly unable to articulate symptoms of these disorders as their illness progresses. Over time, challenging behaviours such as restlessness and agitation, wandering, vocalisations, resisting help with dressing and personal hygiene, verbal and physical aggression and other inappropriate behaviours often occur, although both the intensity and duration of these behaviours are highly variable. These are commonly referred to as the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. The appropriate use of anti-psychotic medicines, discussed fully with carers and family members can assist in managing these behavioural and psychological conditions. There is a very comprehensive explanation of some of the medications used to manage the effects of Alzheimer’s disease contained in this leaflet. Further information on the effects of medication and dementia can be found at: Concilio Dementia document – Managing Dementia - Reading March 2013 v1 drugs-to-help-with-the-impact-of-dementia.pdf Memory Services in the West of Berkshire are provided byThe Trust’s dedicated team is made up of specialist memory nurses, psychologists, doctors, therapists and support workers. Memory clinics are held twice a week, usually at Hazelwood In Reading, though home visits can be arranged if necessary. The service both assesses and investigates memory loss. You’ll be referred following your initial meeting with your GP. This helpful PDF explains more about what you can expect when you’re referred to a memory clinic: Hazelwood, Prospect Park Hospital
Reading RG30 4EJ
Tel: 0118 960 5959
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
What you can expect if you are referred to a memory clinic (17).pdf Concilio Dementia document – Managing Dementia - Reading March 2013 v1


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• Fill your prescription for your compressions stockings early. You can order them or purchase them in a medical supply store. Stockings can take up to three weeks for delivery. See our stocking information sheet. • Avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen),or aspirin 7 - 10 days before the scheduled procedure. • Do not shave or wax your legs the nig

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