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Dementia Overview (cont.)

What is the treatment for dementia?

Although an individual with dementia should always be under medical care, family members handle much of the day-to-day care. Medical care should focus on optimizing the individual's health and quality of life while helping family members cope with the many challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. Medical care depends on the underlying condition, but it most often consists of medications and nondrug treatments such as behavioral therapy.

However, early investigation into the cause of dementia symptoms is urged because, as mentioned previously in the causes of dementia section. There are some conditions that when adequately treated may either limit or reverse dementia.

While at home, what can I do to help my loved one with symptoms of dementia?

Many people with dementia in the early and intermediate stages are able to live independently.

  • With regular checks by a local relative or friend, they are able to live without constant supervision.
  • Those who have difficulty with activities of daily living require at least part-time help from a family caregiver or home health aide.
  • Visiting nurses can make sure that these individuals take their medications as directed.
  • Housekeeping help is available for those who cannot keep up with household chores.

Other affected individuals require closer supervision or more constant assistance.

  • Round-the-clock help in the home is available, but it is too expensive for many.
  • Individuals who require this level of assistance may need to move from their home to the home of a family caregiver or to an assisted-living facility.
  • Many families prefer these options because they give the individual the greatest possible independence and quality of life.

For individuals who are able to remain at home or to retain some degree of independent living, maintaining a familiar and safe environment is important.

  • The individual must be comfortable and safe if he or she is to continue to function independently.
  • Minor modifications of the home may be needed. Most important is to prevent falls and accidents. Getting rid of area rugs and putting grab bars in the shower and mats in the tub are easy important steps to make the environment safe. Sometimes, disabling the stove or using child proof knobs may be necessary to prevent cooking accidents.
  • The balance between safety and independence must be assessed often. If necessary, changes must be made to keep the individual safe.

Individuals with dementia should remain physically, mentally, and socially active.

  • Daily physical exercise helps the body and mind function and maintains a healthy weight. Exercise can be as simple as a daily walk.
  • The individual should engage in as much mental activity as he or she can handle. Mental activity is believed to slow the progress of some types of dementia. Puzzles, games, reading, and safe hobbies and crafts are good choices.
  • Social interaction is stimulating and enjoyable for most people with dementia. Most senior centers or community centers have scheduled activities, such as parties and clubs that are suitable for those with dementia.

A balanced diet that includes low-fat protein foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents malnutrition and constipation. An individual with dementia should not smoke, both for health and for safety reasons. As a caregiver, make sure to take care of yourself.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Delirium, Dementia, and Amnesia »

Delirium, dementia, amnesia, and certain other alterations in cognition are subsumed under more general terms such as mental status change (MSC), acute confusional state (ACS), or organic brain syndrome (OBS).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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