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Medication Overview

There is no cure for dementia.  However, there are medications to help treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.  It is important that you talk with your loved one’s health care provider about treatment options.

Commonly Used Medications medications poured into hand

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

Cholinesterase inhibitors are the type of medication currently used to treat the early to moderate stages of dementia.  These medications treat symptoms of dementia such as memory, language, and judgment.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these medications may slow down the progression of symptoms for 6-12 months. However, these results vary and each individual is different. 

Three common cholinesterase inhibitors are:

  • Aricept (Donepezil):  This is the only medication that is approved to treat all stages of the disease (early-severe)
  • Exelon (Rivastigmine): used for treating mild-moderate stages
  • Razadyne (Galantamine): used for treating mild-moderate stages 

Other Medications used to Treat Dementia Symptoms

  • Namenda (Memantine) is the most common type of medication used to treat moderate to severe stages of dementia.  This medication may be taken alone, but doctors may also prescribe it along with one of the three cholinesterase inhibitors mentioned earlier. Namenda may help slow the process and reverse some symptoms of dementia. 
  • A newer medication, named Namzaric, is a combination of Namenda and Aricept. This medication is used to treat moderate to severe stages of dementia, and is approved by the FDA for individuals who are already taking Aricept. Namzaric may help slow down the worsening symptoms, and may improve cognition and function for a while.

Important medication safety tips and advice can be found in the Safety section of this website.  

Treatments at a Glance

Generic Brand Approved For Side Effects
donepezil Aricept All stages Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and increased frequency of bowel movements.
galantamine Razadyne Mild to moderate Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and increased frequency of bowel movements.
memantine Namenda Moderate to severe Headache, constipation, confusion and dizziness.
rivastigmine Exelon Mild to moderate Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and increased frequency of bowel movements.
memantine + donepezil Namzaric Moderate to severe Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, increased frequency of bowel movements, headache, constipation, confusion and dizziness.

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VA Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA values your commitment as a partner in our pledge to care for those who have "borne the battle." We have several support and service options designed with you in mind. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for yourself and the Veteran you love.

Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC) is committed to optimizing the health and well-being of Veterans with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability associated with chronic disease, agining or injury. This VA site reviews information on delirium, dementia and Alzheimer's care, decision making, home and community based services, and advance care planning, among many other important topics that may be important for you as a caregiver.

Veteran's Crisis Line Phone: 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans Press 1)

The VA does not endorse the following resources or guarantee that their information is 100% accurate.  However, you may be able to find some helpful information by visiting the following pages:

Alzheimer's Association

References: Information adapted from Alzheimer’s Association and

If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.