Dementia comes with various symptoms that sometimes require medication to manage. Usually, patients with dementia are recommended to undergo non-drug interventions before switching to medication, as it may interfere with other pre-existing conditions. However, if non-drug interventions aren’t effective, medications are the next best choice.

Still, even though medications can provide immediate relief, they can also result in side effects and new problems that can complicate a patient’s situation. Luckily, working with a doctor and an Edmonton pharmacist will ensure that the patient takes only the recommended dosage to keep side effects to a minimum and maximize the positive effects. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia and they require medication, here is what you need to know:

Starting a Course of Medication

Generally, it’s best to start at a low dose when administering medications to a dementia patient. The doctor will first prescribe a small dose and will increase it according to the patient’s response. It is also prudent to avoid medications that can increase confusion or worsen memory and thinking, as patients with cognitive problems will experience worse symptoms. It’s essential to stay away from drug interactions that can compromise the effectiveness of these medications and take one drug at a time to monitor the patient’s reaction to it.

Patients must see their doctors regularly when taking these medications to monitor the disease’s progression and the symptoms’ severity, allowing them to adjust or stop medications as needed. While there aren’t any medications that can cure dementia, they can make the condition easier to live with and relieve symptoms related to thought processes like memory, thinking, and language. They can also help address behavioural issues that resulted from dementia.

Dealing With Side Effects

Although these medications are meant to improve memory, cognition, or behaviour, they do not always work as intended since people respond differently. However, it’s important to note that the memory, cognition, or behavioural problems will worsen faster without medications. For this reason, it is crucial to weigh the benefits and risks of pursuing medication if it results in uncomfortable or painful side effects.

Sometimes, the side effects go away after a few days or subside with a smaller dose. Other patients can take these medications without a problem, so it is essential to observe the patient when they start a new course of drugs.

Medications Used for Persons With Dementia

Donepezil, sold under the brand name Aricept, is commonly prescribed to patients at all stages of dementia. The same applies to Rivastigmine, sold as Exelon, and Galantamine, sold as Razadyne. These three medications have the same possible side effects: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, weight loss, low heart rate, and problems such as having trouble sleeping, feeling tired, vivid dreams, and muscle cramps.

Another commonly prescribed medication for patients with dementia is Memantine, sold as Namenda. It is often given to patients at moderate to severe stages of dementia and used in tandem with one of the medications mentioned above. Possible side effects include headache, dizziness, confusion, and constipation.

Conclusion

Medications can vastly improve a patient’s quality of life. However, without observation of proper protocols when starting a new course of medication, they can worsen symptoms and bring more discomfort to a patient with dementia. By working with the patient’s doctor and a local pharmacy, you can ensure that your loved one gets a steady supply of the medications that work best for them.

Rite Choice Pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy in Edmonton offering free prescription delivery. As a travel clinic, our priority is serving the needs of seniors, diabetic patients, those with dementia, high blood pressure, and requiring palliative care. Contact us today to learn more about our services!