Is Aricept doing more harm than good with pleasant dementia?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has what now is referred to as "Pleasant Dementia". She has been on Aricept for a couple of years and recently her prescription was interrupted by a delay in the insurance approval. While off the Aricept for a week, I noticed a real improvement in her memory and response - more alert, etc. After 3 weeks I am not sure if I have done the right thing as she seems more alert, I am afraid the dementia will deteriorate more quickly. Do you think I should continue the Aricept even though it made her more lethargic and "out of it". Thank you for any information.

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Aricept may have different effects in different people. I would not recommend starting it again if your mother is doing better without it. However, if her dementia progresses, you might want to try it again.

Community Answers

Emilypinaud answered...

Is aricept helpful for progressive dimentia? My mom is on seroquel but this is for bipolar. She was diagnosed with dimentia. I read not to give seroquel to people with dimentia. Am i harming her? Her old primary doctor thought this would help her behavior issues.What do you think of seroquel?

Frena answered...

most studies on aricept regard it as effective for about a year, maximum, since it doesn't treat or cure alzheimer's, but may help people in the earlier stages to slow down in dementia progression.

that said, if you look at on-line forums, you'll find a lot of people report serious side effects which affect life quality. so you do need to see what individual response is.

not having your Mom continue after two years certainly won't hurt her and it won't change her dementia progression at this point. the fact that she does so well now without it is a clear sign she'll do well without it. and maybe toxicity has become a problem, as often happens in longterm use of medications.

if she looks better, accept that and go with it. a happier life iw definitely a good choice. and don't worry that you might deprive her of a cure, because aricept doesn't cure. it merely helps, but that help doesn't continue longterm.

happiness and a sense of ease and pleasantness is a sure sign she's feeling better in herself. i vote for happiness, but it's your choice.

Chosenbydad answered...

When my day was diagnosed with dementia his doctor recommended his start Aricept. After being on this med for about 6 months. I noticed him being lethargic, hallucinations and sleeping for hours on end from there I asked the Dr to change his medicine he recommended numenda, which had the same side affects. Since he stopped taking the meds is he easier to deal with...I prefer to let nature take it's course for now