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3 Dementia treatment

The GP and a hospital specialist will usually jointly prescribe and monitor any drug treatment for dementia. The arrangement will depend upon a person's situation, where they live, and what medication they are already taking.

Most types of dementia will get progressively worse and cannot be cured.

Dementia medication

For some causes of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s) there are drugs that can help delay the progression of some symptoms for a period of time. Dementia drugs are generally prescribed to people in the early and middle stages, but each doctor will make a case-by-case decision depending on the person’s condition and needs. However, there is no cure for dementia, and not everybody will benefit from these drugs. Make sure you ask about possible side effects before your relative takes any new medications. The prescribing doctor, nurse or GP can offer advice.

Psychological treatments for dementia

Psychological treatments do not slow down the progression of dementia, but they can help patients to cope with the symptoms. Treatments may include:

  • Cognitive stimulation therapy: involves taking part in activities and exercises designed to improve memory, problem-solving skills and language ability. This form of therapy may not be suitable for everyone, and the benefits may be small.
  • Reality orientation therapy: involves taking part in activities and exercises designed to improve memory, problem-solving skills and language ability. It reduces feelings of mental disorientation, memory loss and confusion, while improving self-esteem. This form of therapy may not be suitable for everyone, and the benefits may be small
  • Behavioural therapy: tries to find reasons for difficult behaviour and uses different strategies to try to change it.

Ongoing assessment

Once you or your relative has been diagnosed with dementia, his or her health professional (for example, GP, dementia nurse, psychiatry nurse, occupational therapist) should arrange to see them at regular intervals to monitor any changes in their condition and discuss any concerns. The GP may work with a specialist mental health team or consultant for ongoing assessment and advice on ways to deal with specific difficulties.