But were they told what to expect, and how to judge if the medication is worth continuing?
I’ve noticed that patients and families often aren’t told much about how well these medications generally work, and or how to determine if it’s likely to help in your situation.
So in this post, I’ll explain how the four medications in wide use work. I’ll also address some of the frequently asked questions that I hear from older adults and families.
If someone in your family is taking one of these medications or considering them, this will help you better understand the medication and what questions you might want to ask the doctors. It’s especially important to understand the pros and cons if finances or medication costs are a concern.
You may have also heard that on June 7, 2021, the FDA approved a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Aduheml (aducanumab). The approval was controversial, as the FDA’s scientific advisory panel had recommended not approving. As this drug is new — and it’s unclear just how it will be used in clinical practice — I plan to update this article once I have a better “real-world” understanding of what older adults and families should know.
Note: This article is about those drugs that have been studied and approved to treat the cognitive decline related to dementia. This is not the same as treating behavioral symptoms (technically called “neuropsychiatric” symptoms) related to dementia, such as paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, aggression, sleep disturbances, wandering, and so forth. There are no drugs FDA-approved to treat the behavioral problems of dementia. The off-label use of psychiatric medications, such as Seroquel, in dementia is covered here: 5 Types of Medication Used to Treat Difficult Dementia Behaviors.)
4 Medications FDA-Approved to Treat Dementia
FDA-approved medications to treat Alzheimer’s and related dementias basically fall into two categories: [Read more…]