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Dementia Treatments

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Dementia Guide

Alison Beaver

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Treatment

Currently, there are no treatments to cure many types of dementia. Various drugs are being studied to see if they can decrease the symptoms of dementia or slow its course.

Medications

Only two types of medicines have been approved to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors—approved and recommended for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (eg, donepezil [Aricept], rivastigmine [Exelon], galantamine [Reminyl])
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist—approved for moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease (eg, memantine)

Treatments that are being studied include:

  • Gamma-secretase inhibitors
  • Tau fiber aggregation inhibitors
  • Herbs and supplements (eg, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba)—The evidence is mixed as to the effectiveness of these natural remedies.

Lifestyle Management

This type of support is critical for people with dementia. Behavioral and environmental support includes:

  • Keeping you safe in your home
  • Providing a calm, quiet, predictable environment
  • Providing appropriate eyewear and hearing aids, easy-to-read clocks, and calendars
  • Music therapy and/or dance therapy
  • Encouraging light exercise to reduce agitation and relieve depression
  • Discussing healthcare wishes with family members and doctors, and appointing a healthcare proxy and a legal power of attorney

Psychiatric Medications

People with dementia often develop psychiatric symptoms and may need appropriate treatment, such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytics—to treat anxiety
  • Antipsychotics—to treat severe confusion, paranoia, and/or hallucinations
    • These must be used with caution. There are reports of increased risk for stroke or death in elderly patients with dementia.
  • Mood stabilizers—to treat dangerous or disruptive behaviors

Caregiver Support

Caring for a person with dementia is very difficult. Those providing care will need support . The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for families and caregivers.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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