Memantine for later stages

Memantine (Namenda) is approved by the FDA for treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. It works by regulating the activity of glutamate, a messenger chemical widely involved in brain functions — including learning and memory. It's taken as a pill or syrup. Common side effects include dizziness, headache, confusion and agitation.

The FDA has also approved a combination of donepezil and memantine (Namzaric), which is taken as a capsule. Side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea.

When to discontinue Alzheimer's drugs

Because Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, your symptoms and care plan will change over time. If you're taking an Alzheimer's drug, ongoing review of your care plan will include working with your doctor to decide how long you should continue your medication.

Because the effects of Alzheimer's drugs are usually modest, it might be difficult to tell if the drugs are working. However, you can't know if your symptoms might be more severe without your medication.

Talk to your doctor before stopping an Alzheimer's drug, and let your doctor know if your condition worsens after you stop.

July 15, 2017 See more In-depth