According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million. And that’s just one type of dementia. Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, there are many others. Although there is no cure for most types, there are options for those dementias that can improve symptoms, slow progress, and improve quality of life. That’s why an accurate and early diagnosis of dementia is so important. Learn about potential treatment options for dementia here.
Tremendous progress has been made in dementia research. As such, there are several medications your loved one’s doctor may recommend to help slow memory loss and cognitive decline. These medications typically work by preventing the breakdown of important brain chemicals. Psychoactive medications, such as antidepressants, may also help by improving mood and boosting motivation. Drugs that increase dopamine in the brain may slow the progression of Parkinson’s-related dementia.
Depending on the type of dementia, your loved one’s doctor might recommend lifestyle changes
such as a healthier diet, more exercise, or various brain training activities. A healthy diet and regular exercise may prevent further cardiovascular damage in people with vascular dementia.
There are also some targeted therapies that can improve functioning for certain types of dementia. For example, people with primary progressive aphasia and other forms of speech loss may benefit from speech therapy. What’s more, occupational and physical therapy may help people with movement disorders.
There’s no question that a diagnosis of dementia is devastating and has likely caused your loved one to feel frightened, angry, and unsure of what to do next. Psychotherapy, particularly in the early stages, can help them cope with their feelings. Family therapy may also be helpful, not only because you’re likely all struggling with the diagnosis but also if members of your family disagree about how best to proceed.
In most cases, the symptoms of dementia tend to get worse over time. Your loved one will need regular evaluations to assess how well treatment is working, and their doctor might prescribe
a range of treatments to address symptoms as they occur. For example, insomnia and anxiety are common in the late stages of dementia, and an array of medications can manage these symptoms.
Although there is no cure for dementia, a number of clinical trials have shown promising results. Ask your loved one’s doctor if this option might be appropriate. Clinical trials can be particularly helpful when you’ve exhausted other treatment options for dementia.
Although some types of dementia, such as those caused by a brain tumor, fluid on the brain, thyroid problems, and vitamin deficiencies, can be reversed, most are permanent. As such, if and when your loved one’s dementia progresses, there will come a point when you need to make changes to their living arrangement.
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one can likely remain at home with support from friends and family members and/or an in-home aide(s) who can provide personalized care. However, when dementia progresses to the later stages, specialized care outside the home may become necessary to give your loved one the best quality of life.
Memory care is a type of senior living that is specifically designed to nurture those with dementia. These communities offer specifically trained staff and individualized support. You’ll find 24-hour supervision and an environment that is easy to navigate, is secure and may also use soothing colors and lighting to create a relaxed, comforting atmosphere. Our memory care communities can help your loved one live their best life with therapy, structured activities, social opportunities, and even dining options designed to improve nutrition and independence. Common memory care features include:
To learn more about treatment options for dementia, download our Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia today!