A total of 339 people with dementia were followed, of which 127 had been prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors. Of the patients who were prescribed the drugs, 74% received donepezil (Aricept), further 14% were given galantamine (Reminyl), 8% rivastigmine (Exelon), and 4% memantine (Ebixa). The remainder of the group was not prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors.
After four years, the researchers observed that non-treated patients moved into care sooner than those prescribed drugs. The median delay to care home admission for the treated group was 12 months.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said: “These observations go some way in underlining the importance of drugs like donepezil and galantamine in helping people with dementia remain at home with their families. While current treatments do not alter the Alzheimer’s disease process, they have real value in helping to maintain quality of life. This study should also ensure that people with dementia and their carers seek all the support they possibly can to maintain independent living.
“If we are to make a profound impact on dementia in the UK, we need treatments that can halt or reverse the disease process itself, but research in this area is in sore need of funding. Over 820,000 people in the UK live with dementia, and there is little in the way of treatments that offer them hope. We urgently need to invest in dementia research now; it’s the only way we’ll find answers to the greatest medical challenge of our times.”