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What Drugs Are Used to Calm Dementia Patients?

Several medications are used to help calm and lessen the symptoms for those experiencing dementia. The most common drugs for dementia are given to ease symptoms in four main categories: depression, anxiety, hallucinations and insomnia.

Reasons to Incorporate Dementia Medications

As your friend or family member progresses through the stages of dementia, they might need a bit of help with their changing emotions and behaviors. Various stages of dementia can cause your relative to easily become agitated, confused or upset. They might become aggressive or anxious. They might also experience hallucinations or have episodes of depression. All of these symptoms are part of dementia and can come and go.

It’s important to remember that there is a reason why they are acting or responding in a certain way. Cognitive impairment has led to changes in the way your family member thinks, feels and behaves. In some cases, your friend or relative’s symptoms can become more intense and potentially cause harm to themselves or to those providing wellness support. If your friend or family member can’t receive the support they need and deserve, they won’t be able to live their best life.

Medication can help them feel more comfortable and to experience a higher quality of life, whether living at home, in assisted living or at a dedicated memory care community.

Types of Medications for Dementia

What drugs are used to calm dementia patients? There are many medications available for people experiencing dementia symptoms. Some have one main benefit, while others help to calm numerous symptoms that your friend or family member could be experiencing.

Depression Medication

The doctor helping with your relative’s health care might prescribe depression medication if they are showing fatigue, lethargy and a lack of interest in daily activities. These medications will help improve their mood and encourage them to take initial steps with daily functioning.

Here are some of the most common depression medications:

  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Remeron (mirtazapine)
  • Desyrel (trazodone)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Trintellix (vortioxetine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)

Hallucination Medication

Dementia begins to change your relative’s brain cells and cognitive awareness, deepening these changes as it progresses to later stages. These changes can make it difficult for your relative to understand what is real and what is not. Sometimes, dementia can lead to your friend or family member experiencing hallucinations, delusions or paranoia that lead to upsetting moments.

Their doctor might give them antipsychotic medication to ease their symptoms and to reduce any anxiety they may have. Your relative will feel calmer and more relaxed because the meds stop high amounts of dopamine from causing them stress.

Here are some of the most common antipsychotic medications:

  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)
  • Haldol (haloperidol)

Anxiety Medication

Feeling anxious is a common symptom in dementia and it can appear at any stage. Earlier stages may not need medications, but later stages can become so severe that the individual feels stressed constantly. If your doctor prescribes anxiety medication for dementia care, they may monitor your friend or family member for signs of drug dependence. Older adults can be more sensitive to these side effects.

Here are some of the most common anxiety medications:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Buspar (buspirone)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Serax (oxazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)

Alternately, the doctor might prescribe an antidepressant that also helps with anxiety. Below are the most common medications for this purpose:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Remeron (mirtazapine)

Insomnia Medication

Feeling disoriented or tired during the day can be frustrating, but not being able to sleep at night has an even more powerful effect on your relative’s health. If your friend or family member is experiencing sleepless nights, they might benefit from a sleep aid. Sleep aids affect everyone differently, so your relative may need to try several until one has the right effect. Melatonin might help as well.

Here are some of the most common insomnia medications:

  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Sonata (zaleplon)
  • Rozerem ramelteon
  • Oleptro or Desyrel (trazodone)
  • Remeron (mirtazapine)

Considerations When Deciding to Use Medication

It is possible that your friend or family member can see improvements just by having caregivers change the way they provide assistance. Sometimes, small adjustments can lessen milder symptoms or ease those symptoms brought on by environment or health issues unrelated to dementia.

Alternatives to Medication

For instance, if your friend or relative reacts aggressively to your touch, try announcing your presence first to avoid startling them. If they become upset when it’s time to sleep, try leaving a nightlight on to provide illumination and visual familiarity. If they become agitated at certain times of day, check to see if they’re simply hungry, thirsty or need to use the toilet.

You might even discover that they’re experiencing pain from a mild infection like a UTI. Using antibiotics can clear up the infection and help them to become much more comfortable.

Signs It’s Time for Medical Help

After considering these adjustments, you might find that your friend or family member’s symptoms are becoming increasingly severe. You might begin to notice that they have fewer contented and relaxed days, despite your modifications.

At this point, it may be time to consider medication. Stronger symptoms likely mean that your family member has progressed further into dementia. At later stages, they may be frequently uncomfortable, reacting with intense behavioral or emotional responses.

Dementia medication can’t cure the disease, but it can act as another support tool for their health. When your relative uses medications, they can enjoy calmer days, more frequent family moments, enhanced health support and a better quality of life.

Focus on Creating a Positive Lifestyle

Medication is not a cure for dementia, but it is a tool that can help individuals with the disease live stronger, happier lives. To get the best results, use dementia medication to calm your relative or friend as directed by their physician, then help them create a positive lifestyle with the support they need.

At The Villages of Windcrest, we use the Valeo wellness philosophy to ensure your relative or friend achieves optimal wellness in our memory care neighborhood. We offer customized health support with one-on-one interaction, careful medication management and an enriching wellness program.

If you and your relative are interested in our Fredericksburg, Texas senior living community, we encourage you to contact us. Together, we’re helping those experiencing dementia enjoy a better quality of life.