Dementia Medication Overview (cont.)
Richard J Caselli, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Nicholas Y Lorenzo, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Helmi L Lutsep, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Drugs within the class known as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) blockers include memantine (Namenda), which has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer disease. After NMDA blockers are started, a notable improvement in basic activities of daily living (for example, eating, grooming, dressing) is noted. This drug can be used in combination with existing AChE inhibitors. Although observed effects will be modest, these improvements significantly aid caregivers, such as nursing home personnel or family members, in their interactions with these patients.
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Perhaps the most important challenge in treating dementia is identifying cases (albeit uncommon) of reversible dementia such as chronic drug intoxication, vitamin deficiencies (B-12 and folate), subdural hematoma(s), major depression (causing forgetfulness), normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), and hypothyroidism.