Dementia Overview (cont.)
Dementia Follow-up, Prevention, and Prognosis
After dementia has been diagnosed and treatment begun, the individual requires regular checkups with his or her health care professional.
- These checkups allow the health care professional to see how well treatment is working and to make adjustments as necessary.
- They allow detection of new medical and behavior problems that could benefit from treatment.
- These visits also give the family caregiver(s) an opportunity to discuss problems with the individual's care.
No known way to prevent irreversible dementia or even many types of reversible dementia exists. The following may help prevent certain types of dementia:
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, moderate use of alcohol, and no smoking or substance abuse
- Taking precautions to prevent infections (such as practicing safe sex)
- Using protective equipment such as a seat belt or motorcycle helmet to prevent head injury
The following may allow early treatment and at least partial reversal of dementia:
- Being alert for symptoms and signs that suggest dementia
- Early recognition of underlying medical conditions, such as hypoxia, HIV infection, low glucose levels, or low sodium levels
The outlook for most types of dementia is poor unless the cause is an early recognized reversible condition. Irreversible or untreated dementia usually continues to worsen over time. The condition usually progresses over years until the person's death.
Making decisions about end-of-life care is important.
- The earlier in the disease these issues are discussed, the more likely the person with dementia will be able to express his or her wishes about medical care at the end of life.
- The issues may be presented by your health care professional. If not, ask about them.
- These issues include use of aggressive interventions and hospital care, artificial feeding, and medical treatment for medical illnesses.
- These issues should be discussed by family members and decisions made about how to deal with them when the time comes.
- The decisions should be documented in the person's medical records.
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