Unfortunately, currently, there is no cure for dementia. However, if discovered early, drugs and therapies can help slow the course of the disease and alleviate a few of the symptoms. As a result, the primary aims of therapy are to preserve life quality, enhance function in everyday tasks, improve recognition, attitude, and behavior, establish a secure place, and encourage social participation.
We realize how tough it is to see your loved one gradually lose their grasp of the world. But there’s a lot you can do to make them feel more at ease and better comprehend the world. Some of them you can assist with, while others will necessitate the assistance of mental health specialists or mental health facilities.
Let’s take a look at the treatment options, including medications that can help manage dementia symptoms.
Medications for Dementia
Because Alzheimer’s disease is the most common kind of dementia, most of the current drugs are used for its treatment. In addition, they can assist in alleviating discomfort momentarily.
The most important medications are:
1. Cholinesterase Inhibitors
Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain, is present in sufficient amounts in a healthy brain. It aids in the transmission of signals between particular types of nerve cells that respond to this molecule. In the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, two issues arise: reduced amounts of the chemical and loss of nerve cells that react to the use of acetylcholine.
Dropping acetylcholine levels and increasing nerve cell death have been related to deteriorating symptoms. The existence of an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase influences this degradation process.
Cholinesterase inhibitors inhibit the enzyme from degrading this critical messenger molecule in the brain. As a result, Alzheimer’s medicine helps preserve the correct amounts of the neurotransmitter, allowing for improved communication between nerve cells and brief stabilization of some Alzheimer’s symptoms. These drugs are known as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Razadyne).
This medication (also called Namenda) is prescribed to individuals with moderate to extreme Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, or Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Memantine can be perfect for people who have no tolerance for acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. It works by avoiding the negative effects of an excess of glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Unfortunately, there is also little information on its efficacy for other types of dementia.
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States approved aducanumab, a novel Alzheimer’s disease drug, in June 2021. Many Alzheimer’s patients have amyloid plaques in their brains, which are considered to impair connections between brain cells. Aducanumab treatment resulted in a decrease in amyloid-beta plaques in the brain in various studies.
Some people living with dementia and caregivers employ supplementary therapies such as ginkgo Biloba, coconut oil, and Curcumin. However, there is little data to establish if such treatments are successful.
Any product that claims to help persons with dementia should be avoided. If you’re planning to add any of these treatments or supplements to your routine, ensure you consult your doctor first.
Some cures interfere with prescription medications and should never be used in place of them.
Supportive Treatments For People Living With Dementia
Medications for dementia symptoms are vital, but they constitute only one component of dementia therapy. Additional therapies, activities, and support – including assistance for caregivers – are equally vital in assisting people living with dementia to live well.
1. Cognitive Rehabilitation
The goal of this strategy is to work with a trained specialist, such as an occupational therapist and a friend or family, to achieve a personal goal, such as learning to operate a gadget or doing other routine tasks.
The goal of cognitive rehabilitation is to urge you to use the parts of your brain that are working to help the parts that aren’t. As a result, it can help you better manage the condition in the initial stages of dementia.
2. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy
Cognitive stimulation treatment is intended for people with mild to moderate dementia and consists of group activities and exercises designed to enhance memory, problem-solving, and language.
Cognitive treatment for people living with dementia provides benefits such as enhanced language and speech comprehension, improved memory, and a more optimistic view of life.
3. Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy seeks to discover the underlying reason for the behavior and then proposes alternate treatment techniques.
A person living with dementia, for example, could have a history of wandering out of their house because they are anxious. Encouragement of such people to find an outlet for their anxiousness, such as consistent physical activity, may thereby alleviate the troublesome behavior.
Behavioral therapy is not a cure for the various behavioral issues linked with dementia (such as sadness, anger, or hallucinations), but it can help to mitigate their impact. Behavioral therapy is frequently administered by a skilled friend or relative, who is usually the primary caregiver in the family.
4. Regular Physical Activity
According to research, people living with dementia who engage in regular, modest exercise can perform better in everyday activities and experience improvements in morale and sadness.
5. Reminiscence Therapy
Talking about stuff and experiences from your past is part of reminiscence therapy. It is common to use props such as pictures, favorite objects, or music.
A life narrative project includes compiling photographs, notes, and artifacts from your younger years to the present. It might be either a digital or physical book.
These techniques are occasionally combined. For example, there is proof that they can increase mood and well-being. They also assist you and the people around you in focusing on your abilities and accomplishments rather than your dementia.
6. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is beneficial for those living with dementia. Occupational Therapists assess current abilities and make appropriate goals based on abilities. Occupational therapy can also be beneficial if your loved one experiences a decline in function anytime throughout their dementia. It may also assist families in the making their surroundings better for a loved one with dementia and provide skills for dealing with problematic behaviors.
7. Pet Therapy
Pet therapy has been shown to alleviate stress, agitation, irritation, sadness, and loneliness. Several care facilities have a resident pet like a dog or a cat or offer pet therapy. As a result, residents in these communities may enjoy company without having to worry about caring for a pet.
8. Sensory Stimulation
The use of music, lighting, noises, fragrances, massage, and aromatherapy is common to excite the brain. This may also be beneficial for certain people living with dementia, such as improving their mood or symptoms of agitation.
Key Points To Remember
1. Early Detection is Critical for Effective Treatment
Symptoms of dementia are degenerative, which means they worsen with time. However, an early diagnosis increases your family member’s chances of profiting from treatment. This is why, if you notice abnormalities in your loved one’s behavior or memory, you should consult a doctor. Identifying the cause of your loved one’s symptoms immediately may help them receive the appropriate therapies and support for their circumstance.
2. Care and Support are Equally Important
On being diagnosed with dementia, a complete examination of the person may be recommended to examine the practical abilities, capacity to care for themselves, safety around their home, and so on. This generally entails a variety of healthcare providers assessing the patient. Then, a personalized care plan outlining the individual’s particular needs can be created. The objective is to make the person as independent as possible.
Most people living with dementia are provided for in their homes. A member of the family is frequently the primary caregiver. Caregivers must get all available local help and advice.
3. Medicines are Not the Cure
Medicines are only 2% of what we can do for people living with dementia. The remaining 98% is non-medicinal. Therefore, prescriptions should be evaluated regularly. If the meds aren’t effective for your loved one or aren’t delivering enough benefit to justify the bad effects, speak with your doctor regarding concerns.
4. Your Needs Matter and You are Not Alone
At some point, your loved one may need more care than you are able to offer as dementia advances. Both you and your loved one will be safer if you are aware of your local memory care options and plan ahead for future care needs. Look for support in support groups or respite care.
The Bottom Line
Everybody is different and responds differently to treatments for any diagnosis ailment. Thus results might differ by a day or even by a portion of a day. As a result, it’s critical to remain in touch with the healthcare staff if you detect any abnormalities in your loved one’s behavior. To support their situation as it worsens, it may be necessary to discuss these concerns with your doctor.
To establish that your loved one has dementia, your GP will generally send them to a specialist. The doctor will next decide whether or not you should receive therapy. The choice to begin therapy and the type of treatment to begin is dependent on a number of factors. These include the source of your dementia, your symptoms, and the severity of your dementia. Dementia is typically classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
So, despite there being no cure for dementia, the therapies mentioned above and medications can help manage the symptoms of people living with dementia. Thereby giving them the freedom to enjoy their lives and take the burden off you as a caregiver.