What Treatments Options are there for Dementia Patients?
There is currently no cure for Dementia. That might be a difficult thing to read, especially if you have recently been diagnosed. However, the good news is that advances in scientific research mean that we are now able to understand the condition better than we ever have before and modern medicine provides us with several options for treating the associated symptoms of Dementia. This means that it is entirely possible, in the majority of cases, for people living with Dementia to maintain a high quality of life and to live free from the constant pain and distress of their symptoms. Here's our in-depth guide to the different Dementia treatments available:
Medications: Cholinesterase Inhibitors: This term describes a range of medications which may be prescribed by your doctor to counter the impaired memory and judgement skills caused by Dementia. These medications work by boosting levels of useful chemicals involved in these key cognitive processes, lessening the harmful impact of Dementia on everyday brain functions. Although usually used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease, they can also be effective in treating symptoms of Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. Notable cholinesterase Inhibitors include Donepezil, Rivastigmine and Galantamine. Memantine: Often known by the brand name ‘Namenda’, Memantine is a drug which helps to regulate the activity of ‘Glutamate’ in the brain and ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Glutamate is a chemical messenger which is essential for key brain functions like memory and learning, but Dementia prevents it from functioning well. Memantine enables the brain to use Glutamate more effectively and this can improve or control symptoms of memory-loss and cognitive decline. (For more information on Memantine, see our blog: https://bit.ly/2IHOXrm) Other medications: Other notable symptoms of Dementia include: Sleeplessness, agitation, behavioral changes and depression. These are all symptoms which are commonly and fairly easily treated with prescription medication. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor about available medications. Therapies: Apart from prescription medication to treat the symptoms of Dementia, there are also a range of different therapies which may temporarily ease a person’s symptoms or enhance their quality of life through providing moments of clarity and alertness which may be otherwise rare:
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapists can play a significant role in improving the quality of life for those living with Dementia by recommending ways by which they can improve the safety of their home and create an environment which is conducive to life with Dementia.
Music therapy: The importance of music in Dementia care is well-documented and is increasingly becoming a focus of research and a key part of daily Dementia care in care homes worldwide. Memories related to music seem to last longer than almost all others, and listening to the favourite songs of their youth can sooth, uplift and trigger valued memories in Dementia patients.
Pet therapy: Similarly to music, pets can play a key role in allowing Dementia patients a break from routine, something to lift their mood and get their brain working. Dogs, in particular, are often used to promote improved moods and behaviours in people with Dementia.
Reminiscence Therapy: Reminiscence is a great way to provide a regular workout for the brains of those living with Dementia and should be considered a key part of modern-day Dementia care. Whether it involves looking at photos, watching old home-movies or discussing memories with loved-ones, this therapy helps to trigger memories from the muddled thoughts of patients and bring them happiness and clarity.
Lifestyle Changes: While treatments and therapies can be incredibly effective, simple lifestyle changes are often overlooked as elements of Dementia care. There is lots of evidence to suggest that a healthy and well-managed lifestyle can reduce a person’s risk of having Dementia or can help to ease symptoms if they do develop.
Exercise: There is growing evidence that exercise protects the brain from dementia, especially when combined with a healthy diet, but it also offers a range of benefits to those already diagnosed. Exercise gives Dementia patients a sense of purpose and achievement and is great for relieving stress, anxiety and the other psychological symptoms of Dementia. Some research even shows that exercise could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Staying Active: Taking part in any activity that requires the brain is valuable for people with Dementia. Patients can often isolate themselves or forget about relationships, but when they socialise with others, they often find that memories return and impaired cognitive abilities temporarily improve. Staying active and sociable are great ways to maintain a good quality of life whilst living with Dementia.
Establish Routine: Routine is vital to the daily happiness and quality of life of someone with Dementia. Set routines, especially in the morning and at bedtime provide stability and something familiar to act as a guide when other circumstances are changeable.
The MindMate App helps its users to change their lifestyle and adopt a healthy routine. The app provides a daily activities plan that is curating personalised exercises, games and diet suggestions.