Dementia has become one of the most common conditions facing seniors today. More and more seniors are finding themselves in nursing homes, assisted living facility and memory care communities as they battle this devastating condition. While there is no cure for dementia, there are some emerging therapies that have been shown to improve dementia symptoms and slow down the progression of this disease.
Many of these dementia therapies have been helping seniors of all types improve their dementia symptoms and improve their quality of life. While some of these therapies are administered in medical facilities, others can be done right in a senior's assisted living facility. Depending on the type of dementia and even the cause of dementia, different therapies may work best.
Many times, putting seniors in the right environment can go a long way in helping to lessen the severity of their dementia. Caregivers and senior living communities alike can make an effort to create a safe and supportive environment for those living with dementia.
- Work on clear communication practices. Talking slowly, using appropriate gestures and focusing on body language can go a long way in helping dementia patients communicate and prevent them from getting unnecessarily stressed or frustrated.
- Those suffering from dementia tend to do best in quite, calm environments and in situations where they can develop and maintain a routine.
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet have been shown to improve the severity of dementia.
- Constant social interactions and routine mental stimulation can help keep the brain sharp and slow down the progression of this disease.
- Mental aids can actually help dementia patient from succumbing to rapid memory loss with their dementia. Notes and reminders not only help dementia patients function better in their daily lives but they actually can help with the progression of the disease as well.
A great deal of research has been done on these environmental therapies and how they can impact the progression of dementia. While they may seem like small changes, they can actually go a long way in improving the lives of those suffering from this condition.
While there is not a cure for dementia, scientists have made a great deal of progress in coming up with medications that can actually delay and slow down the progression of dementia. There are three main brands of drugs that are available today for those that have dementia, including Aircept, Exelon and Razadyne (formerly Reminyl). These medications are all known as cholinesterase inhibitors and they work by preventing the breakdown of an acetylcholine, one of the chemicals in the brain. It is important to note that this type of medication only works in mild to moderate dementia cases.
There are actually some forms of therapies that can be used to help lessen the severity of dementia. Many individuals with dementia will work with an occupational therapist to work on tactics to prevent falls and accidents and manage behavior. Many times, seniors will start this type of therapy in the early stages of their dementia to prevent serious issues and accidents from happening once their dementia progresses.
For individuals with dementia who get easily agitated, music therapy has been a powerful tool used to help calm dementia patients and help them get on normal sleep cycles. Many music therapists can also help those with dementia recall certain memories, using music and sounds. Art therapy is another tactic that is used to help improve the mood and behavior of those with dementia, while studies on pet therapy have found that animals can help improve mood while helping those with dementia create a schedule they can easily adhere to. This is something that has been shown to improve memory function in those with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Alternative and Holistic Medicine
Some individuals prefer to take a more holistic approach to treating dementia, as these approaches typically don't come with as many side effects as other treatments. Although these approaches are relatively safe and natural, some remedies can interfere with other medications. It is always best to address a treatment plan with a medical professional before starting a vitamin or supplement.
- Gingko- Gingko has long been hailed as the "brain vitamin" for several studies that show its connection to boosted brain power. Many individuals with early dementia will include Gingko supplements in their diet.
- Vitamin B12- This is perhaps the most common vitamin used in those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Rush University in Chicago issued a study that found that those who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia tend to be deficient both in vitamin B12 and in folic acid, and they recommend patients take up to 1,000 mcg of these supplements every day.
- Vitamin B1- The University of Maryland Medical Center has done tests on vitamin B1 and recommend it to dementia patients as it can help slow the progression of the disease and help the neurons improve their ability to send message in the brain.
- Vitamin E- This supplement is not only one that is recommended for slowing down dementia, but for preventing dementia from forming in the first place. Taking up to 800 IU of vitamin E a day can help improve brain function and slow down dementia development, according to the University of Maryland.
Treating Dementia Symptoms
In some cases, the best treatment plan for seniors is to actually treat the symptoms associated with their dementia. This is often done in order to improve quality of life for seniors who are struggling with the effects of dementia and the side effects that accompany dementia. There are medications available that can help with the cognitive symptoms and improve the brain's ability to communicate while improving cognitive function. Typically, this includes treatments with cholinesterase inhibitors or a treatment called memantine.
For those who behavioral symptoms and issues with delusions, sometimes antipsychotic drugs, sedatives or antidepressant medications can be prescribed as a way to lessen the severity of some of these behavioral side effects. Ultimately with these types of treatments, it is best to discuss the possible side effects that come with these medications with a healthcare provider first. Sometimes the side effects of these treatments can be more serious than the side effects of the dementia.