Skip to Content



Dementia (duh-men-shuh) is an illness that effects a person's memory, judgment, thinking, problem solving, speaking, and communicating. It may cause you to be confused and have problems doing activities such as driving, cooking, or bathing. You may also have changes in how you act and feel. It is a serious illness and usually gets worse. Some types of dementia may be treated with medicine and other care so that the illness develops more slowly. You may need to go into the hospital for tests and treatment.


  • Keep a written list of what medicines you take and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Ask caregivers for information about the medicines.
  • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think the medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not stop taking your medicine when you feel better. Ask how long you will need to take the medicine. Most people with dementia need to take medicine the rest of their life.
  • You may need blood tests once you start taking medicine for dementia. These tests are used to check how much medicine is in your blood. Caregivers use the results of these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you. You may need to have blood tests taken more than once.
  • Taking vitamins is very important because many people do not eat a healthy diet. Always tell caregivers if you are taking any vitamins, herbs, or other supplements to make sure they are the best ones for you. Caregivers also know if these supplements might not work with your other medicines.
  • Do not use any medicines that are not ordered for you by your caregiver. Do not drink alcohol while taking medicine for dementia.
  • Do not drive or use heavy equipment if you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy.

Medicine Monitoring:

Each time you meet with your caregivers, they will ask you about how you are feeling. Caregivers will watch how you respond to your medicines. Tell caregivers about side effects or problems you may be having with your medicine. Sometimes the kind and amount of medicine may have to be changed. The goal is for you to feel better with the least amount of side effects. You and your caregiver will talk about how long you need the medicine.


Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


Accepting that you have dementia is hard. You and those close to you may feel angry, sad, or frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, and friends about your feelings. Your family may also want to join a support group. This is a group of people who have relatives with dementia. Ask your caregiver for the names and numbers of support groups in your town.

  • Ask your health care provider if they know about books that you can read. Reading about your illness might help you better understand it. You can also call or write one of the following national organizations for more information.
  • Alzheimer's Association
    225 N.Michigan Ave, FL 17
    Chicago , IL 60601-7633
    Phone: 1- 800 - 272-3900
    Web Address:
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100
    Arlington , VA 22203
    Phone: 1- 703 - 524-7600
    Phone: 1- 800 - 950-6264
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information & Communication Branch
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Types of Therapeutic Sessions:

  • Couples Therapy: You and your significant other meet with a caregiver to talk about how to cope with your illness. Your significant other may be your spouse (husband or wife) or a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Family Meetings: Your caregivers will meet with you and your family. You will talk about how to cope with your illness
  • Group Therapy: A series of meetings that you attend with other patients and staff. During these meetings, patients and staff talk together about ways to cope with illness.
  • Individual Therapy: A time for you to meet alone with your therapist. During this time you and your therapist may talk about how to cope with your illness.

Types of Therapy Approaches:

  • Cognitive Therapy helps to make you aware of how you see things. You may have trouble seeing the good in things around you. Then you are more likely to feel depressed, sad or angry. Cognitive therapy teaches you to learn how you see things in a more positive way.
  • Insight Oriented Therapy makes you think about things that have happened in the past. It helps you to understand your feelings and behavior now as it relates to past events.

Wellness Hints:

  • Eat healthy foods from all of the 5 food groups: fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat and fish. Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Drink 6 to 8 (soda pop can size) glasses of liquid each day. Or, follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. Good liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, and soda.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking medicine for dementia. Alcohol can make you feel worried or upset. It can also upset your sleep cycle so you feel more tired. You should also not take any street or illegal drugs. Both alcohol and illegal drugs can effect the way your medicine works and can make dementia worse.
  • Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Exercising makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. Exercise also makes you feel better and happier.
  • It is never too late to quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for the CareNotes™ handout on how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
  • Stress may slow healing and cause illness later. Since it is hard to avoid stress, learn to control it. Learn new ways to relax (deep breathing, relaxing muscles, meditation, or biofeedback). Talk to your caregiver about things that upset you.
  • Regular sleep is very important. Try to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Tell your caregiver if you are not able to sleep or if you are sleeping too much.


  • You have questions or concerns about dementia or your medicine.
  • You feel that you are symptoms are getting worse. The sooner you see your caregiver, the easier it is to control your symptoms.
  • You are not able to sleep well or are sleeping more than usual.
  • You cannot eat or are eating more than usual.
  • You cannot make it to your next meeting with your caregiver.


  • You are unable to care for yourself.
  • You think about killing yourself (suicide) or someone else (homicide).
  • You have very bad side effects, such as rash, swelling, or trouble breathing after taking medicine.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Dementia (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference