Dementia treatments: what’s available now and in the future
While there’s currently no cure for dementia, there are treatments to help with the symptoms.
Most dementia medicines are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease - the most common form of dementia.
According to the NHS
these medicines prevent an enzyme from breaking down a substance called acetylcholine in the brain, which helps nerve cells communicate with each other. Donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl) are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Donepezil is also used to treat more severe Alzheimer’s disease.
This is given to people with moderate or severe Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and those with a mixture of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. It works by blocking the effects of an excessive amount of a chemical in the brain called glutamate.
The later stages of dementia often bring with it what is known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Symptoms of this can include agitation, anxiety, hallucinations and delusions. There are many coping strategies to help handle these symptoms, but in extreme cases where these don’t work antipsychotic medicines such as risperidone or haloperidol may be prescribed.
Alternative remedies and therapy
Remedies such as ginkgo biloba and curcumin are used by some people with dementia, but there is no scientific evidence to say these are effective.
Life story work and reminiscence
Life story work and reminiscence can be helpful for people with dementia and involves talking about and looking at a mixture of photos, letters, music, possessions and keepsakes from the past.
Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST)
Designed to help improve memory and problem-solving, this group activity and exercise work can be helpful for those with mild to moderate dementia.
For more information about treatments for dementia, visit Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Dementia research and future treatments
With its Dementia Research Institute (DRI), the UK is leading the way in ground-breaking dementia research. The institute has seven centres hosted in universities across the UK and is tackling dementia from every angle. Find out more by visiting the DRI website here
Join Dementia Research
Plenty of research and studies are being carried out in the UK into dementia and if you have the condition, and are interested, you can potentially be matched to studies taking place in your area. Visit Dementia Research
to sign up for more information.
New drug may reverse dementia
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and UC Berkeley have recently proposed a radical new theory that the memory loss and cognitive dysfunction of aging is due to a leaky barrier between the blood stream and the brain. By using a new drug they have been able to mute the receptor, reversing signs of brain aging and symptoms of dementia in mice. Read more here
Sign up to use smartphone technology to help dementia research
A smartphone game called GameChanger, which features a series of fun brain games, has been developed by The Alzheimer’s Society alongside the University of Oxford to help researchers understand more about how brains change over time. The technology could help experts drive forward dementia research. Sign up here
and play for free for five minutes each day for a month.