In some cases, appropriate treatment for the underlying condition can resolve dementia completely or partially. The type of treatment depends on the condition. For example, antibiotics are used to treat infection, and surgery is performed to remove a blood clot or tumor.

The goal of treatment for irreversible conditions is to control symptoms. FDA-approved drugs may provide symptomatic relief for Alzheimer's, including donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), and rivastigmine (Exelon).

Tranquilizers and sedatives can ease agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Medications or devices may be used to help manage sleeplessness and incontinence. Safety precautions are necessary to protect a person who is disoriented and may wander from home. Many patients with dementia eventually require 24-hour care in a health or residential facility.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015