Dementia does not refer to a specific disease, but instead is a general term for a progressive brain disorder. Early diagnosis is important to help improve outcomes and provide effective treatment.
Treatment for dementia
The majority of dementias are incurable. However, there are options available that will treat the symptoms related to dementia. These options include:
The treatment of dementia depends upon the underlying cause. Your dementia care team will work closely with you to recommend the right medication. Common medications include:
- Aspirin — to prevent future strokes for those with vascular dementia.
- Antidepressants and antipsychotics — to control behavorial problems related to depression and agitation that may be common with different types of dementia.
- Donepezil — to treat symptoms of memory loss in those with Alzheimer's and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.
Cardiovascular exercise three times per week during mid and late life may result in decreased risk of Alzheimer's Disease and non-Alzheimer's related dementias.
Recommended activities include brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, swimming, tennis, and the use of stationary exercise bikes, a treadmill or elliptical trainer.
Leisure activities that use your mind’s thinking and reasoning skills can help to keep the nerve cells in the brain healthy and decrease the loss of cognitive skills.
Recommended activities include reading, writing, crossword puzzles, playing board or card games, playing musical instruments, group discussions and dancing.
Initially, one might forget what happened earlier in the day. Another example may be that a person may forget names or places and sometimes forget how to get home when they are out and about.
Moodiness, depression and anxiety
A person's mood may change as a result of dementia because the part of the brain that controls emotions becomes damaged. Those with dementia may seem more difficult to get along with and experience more anxiety.
A person with dementia may find it harder than normal to talk, read or write. They may also experience difficulty following instructions or conversations.
Vascular dementia affects organizational skills, multi-tasking and memory. This is due to strokes in the brain. The risks for vascular dementia are similar to the risks of those who have suffered a stroke and depend upon the age of the person, whether they smoke, and if they have other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Symptoms of vascular dementia include increased distractions and difficulty with multi-tasking and organizational skills.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is a dementia that causes decreased alertness and mild hallucinations. It is also associated with tremor and slowing of movements. Someone with Dementia with Lewy Bodies may be very sensitive to medication that affects the central nervous system.
Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia
Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia is a disease that leads to a deterioration of social skills, usually without a loss to memory or language. This type of dementia is more common in males and is mostly seen in individuals less than 60 years of age.
Other forms of dementia include Primary Progressive Aphasia, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Huntington’s Disease, and Creutzfeldt—Jakob Disease.