What’s the Name of My Memory Medicine?

It happens when my wife completes a patient information form in a new doctor’s office or a dentist’s office. When she sees the question, “Please list any medications you currently take”, I wait for the pause, the sheepish grin, and the inevitable question, “What’s the name of my memory medicine?”

It quickly became a family funny that she cannot remember the name of her memory medicine.

In spite of that little glitch, though, I consider Aricept® to be her best drug.

Prior to taking Aricept®, she had quit reading. It was simply too frustrating. By the time she read to the bottom of a page, she could not remember what she had read at the top. To me, that’s the most telling example of how poor her short-term memory had become.

Her functional, short-term memory improved significantly after starting Aricept®. Quickly, she remembered better where things were, what she had just said or heard, and who had just done what.

Best of all, she started reading again! Now, she’s one of our local library’s most frequent patrons, checks out books by the bagfull, and reads for hours on end. It amazes me that such a little bit of a chemical each day can be so helpful for her memory – even if she can’t remember the drug’s name!

I share this story because it’s a good example of how important it is for MS caregivers to pay attention to a patient’s symptoms so they can be reported to the patient’s physician. It’s one thing to say, “she has memory problems”. It’s quite another to say, “she quit reading because she can’t remember the top of the page.”

Note: I’m not a physician and can make no recommendations about medications. However, you can learn more about Aricept® at www.Aricept.com. Aricept is a medication for Alzheimer’s disease. You can also read more about Aricept (donepezil) on the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine’s web site at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001006. The NIH states, “Donepezil may improve the ability to think and remember or slow the loss of these abilities in people who have AD. However, donepezil will not cure AD or prevent the loss of mental abilities at some time in the future.”


  1. Patrick said:

    Excellent entry! Aricept has been likewise dramatic for my wife and through MRI’s over the years evidence of slower progression in brain tissue deterioration.

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

    February 15, 2011
  2. Rich Walcott said:

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information. Is your wife still on it and have there been any side effects?



    April 4, 2011
  3. Rick said:

    Hi, Rich! She still takes Aricept and, to my knowledge, has had no side effects. Of course, that doesn’t mean there are no side effects.

    They may be subtle or may even be something that will appear after longer use. But then again, that’s always the unknown about taking medications. And the question is, “does the benefit I receive from this medication outweigh what it may cost me in the future?”


    April 5, 2011
    • Nancy said:

      My husband had terrible side affects and had to quit taking it. He had cluster headaches and couldn’t listen to TV, slept all the time with the curtains closed and the sheet over his head. He could not sit up in his recliner and had no appitite. He projectile vomited for 3 days with not notice.

      January 14, 2012
  4. don thomson said:

    Just had a rather frightening experience with short term memory issues. My wife and I were scheduled to begin a therapy session at a clinic near our home. We had agreed that I would come to the clinic from work, whereas she would come from home in her powerchair. She has made the 8-10 block ride before, so I wasn’t concerned. I got to the clinic ahead of her and was able to watch for her from the lobby. As, she approached the entrance to the building’s parking lot she suddenly turned left, away from the clinic, and disappeared. I gave her a few minutes to realize her mistake. When she didn’t I went looking for her. I thought perhaps she was bailing on the therapy session. When I went looking for her. I couldn’t find her. Panic began to ensue.

    To make a dreadful and long story short. She was found, unhurt other than some sunburn, by the police about an hour later after I made a rather frantic 911 call. She hadn’t bailed on the therapy session. She had become disorientated on a very hot day and had driven right by the clinic and on out of town. She was found five or six miles from where she was suppose to be. The clinic is a place she has visited numerous times on her own.

    Would this medication help with these medications help?

    June 5, 2014

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