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Dementia Treatments

by Brad McHargue
  • Overview

    Dementia is characterized by a number of symptoms that affect the intellectual and social faculties, leading to an impairment of basic daily functions. One example of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, although there are a variety of other types, some of which are curable. There are a wide variety of treatments available for dementia, including medications, lifestyle remedies and alternative treatments such as vitamin supplements.
  • Symptoms

    The symptoms of dementia are dependent on the cause and type of dementia you have. One of the most common symptoms of dementia is memory loss, although others include: communication difficulties; problems associated with organizational skills and the inability to retain new information; impaired motor functions and coordination; changes in personality and an increase in inappropriate behavior; paranoia and the ability to be easily agitated; and hallucinations. If any of these symptoms appear or begin to progress without warning, consult with your doctor immediately. Catching the possible cause early is the best way to treat dementia, especially if the condition is curable.
  • Medication

    Depending on the type of dementia you have, a number of medications may be prescribed to slow down the progression of the disease and alleviate symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil and rivastigmine, which are typically used for Alzheimer's disease and work by increasing the production of chemical messengers associated with judgment and memory. Although beneficial, there are a number of potential side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. They can be used to treat Lewy body dementia and Parkinson's as well. Another Alzheimer's drug is known as memantine, which works by regulating the production and function of glutamate, a chemical messenger necessary for proper brain function. Side effects are minimal and typically include dizziness. This drug is often combined with cholinesterase inhibitors, and is often used to treat other forms of dementia. At times, medication to treat the possible underlying cause of the dementia, such as anemia, depression, brain tumor, heart failure and infection, may be necessary. A number of medications, such as sedatives and antidepressants, may be used to control behavioral symptoms. While most types of dementia can be cured or treated, treatment for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is focused solely on making the affected individual comfortable.
  • LIfestyle Treatment

    A number of other treatments may be employed at home to help make day-to-day activities easier and to improve your quality of life. These can include the establishment of daily and nighttime rituals such as carrying a reminder calendar and leaving on a night light to decrease the risk of disorientation. Living in a calm and stable environment free of distractions can help reduce the risk of confusion and provide relief from anxiety. Finally, a crucial method of treatment is making a long-term plan to cover all possibilities, such as finances and health care, as the dementia progresses. Consult with your doctor and loved ones for advice on how to properly manage the condition at home, as support is an important factor in leading a healthy life.

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