A new study has revealed that continued use of the dementia drug Donepezil (Aricept) can significantly increase the chance of people with dementia being able to stay in their own homes.

It’s usually prescribed for people in the early to mid-stages of dementia, but experts are now calling for this practice to be reviewed, after a new study suggested that Aricept could have longer lasting effects than originally thought.

The three year study of 295 people with moderate to late-stage dementia found that only 20 per cent of those given Aricept were living in a nursing home within a year, compared to 37 per cent of those who were given a different drug or a dummy pill.

‘These robust findings are of real significance to people with dementia who want to continue living at home for as long as possible,’ says Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society. ‘We urge clinicians to consider the implications of this research and adjust their prescribing patterns accordingly.’

For people with dementia, the benefits of remaining at home are wide-reaching. Becoming dependent on residential care isn’t only an event which many dread, it’s one which also has huge financial implications. Although means-tested, residential care is very expensive and a large chunk is often paid for by the patient. Whilst the average cost of nursing home care ranges from £30,000- £34,000 per year, a year’s supply of Aricept can be as little as £21.59, according to the Alzheimer’s society.

The study was led by University College London.