How To Deal With A Relative With Dementia

elderly person in care home looking at phoneDementia is a group of diseases with one common denominator: they involve a severe impairment of a person’s cognitive ability, an impairment that only becomes more complex over time. Dementia is now known as a chronic disease that cannot be completely cured or treated, but that does not really mean that there is nothing to do. Today there are a variety of methods and treatments that can alleviate the symptoms of dementia and even significantly slow down the rate of disease progression, so the biggest mistake to make is to take the condition for granted or as a destiny.

Treatment adjustment

The earlier the dementia is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat it. In the beginning, when the person is experiencing cognitive difficulties but has not yet discovered clinical dementia, treatment is primarily preventative. It includes various actions aimed at balancing the risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease (such as hypertension), brain activity and even physical activity.

When it comes to clinical dementia – and it is estimated that about 15-10% of people with mild cognitive decline reach this state – the treatment picture becomes more complex and varies depending on the specific type of dementia and its stage of development. 

Often the attending physician will decide on the adjustment of drugs to stabilize and slow down the decline in cognitive function, when the expectation is for long-term treatment of drugs that may reach a year or two: The person must be monitored, as part of which it will be possible to decide whether to change the treatment or make spot changes. As the problem worsens, despite the treatment, the doctor is likely to decide that there is no longer any point in taking medication. But one has to move on to the next steps in the treatment equation, and that is another story.

The mental aspects of dementia

It is important to note that dementia does not only affect a person’s cognitive function, but may also impair it on the mental level. Many dementia patients develop mental symptoms over time, including hallucinations, restlessness, delusions, difficulty sleeping,  depression, anxiety and so on. Some of the problems stem from a person’s limited ability to function, which may develop loneliness as a result or alternatively feel that they are a burden to their environment. In this case, you may want to look at senior care placement services.

In some cases it will be decided to give medications to treat the mental symptoms, although it is advisable not to rely on them over time due to the side effects and potential risks, mainly (but not only) when taking them for a long time. Some treatment programs are designed to improve a person’s condition while activating the mind and senses, but mainly providing pleasure: for example, art therapy. To this can be added programs based on environmental intervention, which is usually based on changes in the living habits. In this way its walls of resistance to receiving the treatment may break through and improve its effectiveness. Living with dementia is hard but there are always ways to help. 

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