What Medications Are Available To Treat Dementia
Drugs approved for the most common form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, are discussed below. These drugs are also used to treat people with some of the other forms of dementia.
- cholinesterase inhibitors
- NMDA receptor antagonist memantine
These two classes of drugs affect different chemical processes in the brain. Both classes have been shown to provide some benefit in improving or stabilizing memory function in some patients. Although none of these drugs appear to stop the progression of the underlying disease, they may slow it down.
If other medical conditions are causing dementia or co-exist with dementia, the appropriate drugs used to treat those specific conditions are prescribed.
Behavioral And Mood Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia
Changes in behavior and mood are possible in LBD and may worsen as the persons thinking abilities decline. These changes may include:
- Apathy, or a lack of interest in normal daily activities or events and less social interaction
- Anxiety and related behaviors, such as asking the same questions over and over or being angry or fearful when a loved one is not present
- Agitation, or restlessness, and related behaviors, such as pacing, hand wringing, an inability to get settled, constant repeating of words or phrases, or irritability
- Delusions, or strongly held false beliefs or opinions not based on evidence. For example, a person may think his or her spouse is having an affair or that relatives long dead are still living.
- Paranoia, or an extreme, irrational distrust of others, such as suspicion that people are taking or hiding things
How Is Ftd Diagnosed
FTD can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. For example, bvFTD is sometimes misdiagnosed as a mood disorder, such as depression. To make matters more confusing, a person can have both FTD and another type of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Also, because these disorders are rare, physicians may be unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms.
To help diagnose frontotemporal dementia, a doctor may:
- Perform an exam and ask about symptoms
- Look at personal and family medical history
- Use laboratory tests to help rule out other conditions
- Order genetic testing
- Conduct tests to assess memory, thinking, language skills, and physical functioning
- Order imaging of the brain
A psychiatric evaluation can help determine if depression or another mental health condition is causing or contributing to the condition. Only genetic tests in familial cases or a brain autopsy after a person dies can confirm a diagnosis of FTD.
Researchers are studying ways to diagnose FTD earlier and more accurately and to distinguish them from other types of dementia. One area of research involves biomarkers, such as proteins or other substances in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid which can be used to measure disease progression or the effects of treatment. Researchers are also exploring ways to improve brain imaging and neuropsychological testing.
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Can Dementia Be Prevented
Although dementia cannot be prevented, living a health-focused life might influence risk factors for certain types of dementia. Keeping blood vessels clear of cholesterol buildup, maintaining normal blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, staying at a healthy weight basically, staying as healthy as one can can keep the brain fueled with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its highest possible level. Specific healthful steps you can take include:
- Follow a Mediterranean diet, which is one filled with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and shellfish, nuts, beans, olive oil and only limited amounts of red meats.
- Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Keep your brain engaged. Solve puzzles, play word games, and try other mentally stimulating activities. These activities may delay the start of dementia.
- Stay socially active. Interact with people discuss current events keep your mind, heart, and soul engaged.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
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What Are The Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia
People with vascular dementia may experience:
- Difficulty performing tasks that used to be easy, such as paying bills
- Trouble following instructions or learning new information and routines
- Forgetting current or past events
- Misplacing items
- Loss of interest in things or people
- Changes in personality, behavior, and mood, such as depression, agitation, and anger
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Poor judgment and loss of ability to perceive danger
How Is Dementia Diagnosed
To diagnose dementia, doctors first assess whether a person has an underlying, potentially treatable, condition that may relate to cognitive difficulties. A physical exam to measure blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as laboratory tests of blood and other fluids to check levels of various chemicals, hormones, and vitamins, can help uncover or rule out possible causes of symptoms.
A review of a persons medical and family history can provide important clues about risk for dementia. Typical questions might include asking about whether dementia runs in the family, how and when symptoms began, changes in behavior and personality, and if the person is taking certain medications that might cause or worsen symptoms.
The following procedures also may be used to diagnose dementia:
Early detection of symptoms is important, as some causes can be treated. However, in many cases, the cause of dementia is unknown and cannot be treated. Still, obtaining an early diagnosis can help with managing the condition and planning ahead.
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What Do The Terms Mean
One of the challenges shared by people living with these disorders, families, clinicians, and researchers is what terminology to use. Here, we have used the term frontotemporal disorders to characterize this group of diseases and the abbreviation FTD, which is commonly used to refer to them. Other terms used include frontotemporal lobar degeneration and frontotemporal dementia, but it’s important to note that with some frontotemporal disorders, the primary symptoms are problems with speech or movement, rather than dementia symptoms. Physicians and psychologists diagnose the different forms of FTD based on a persons symptoms as well as the results of brain scans and genetic tests.
Examples Of Dementia In A Sentence
dementiadementiasdementiaaldementiaCBS NewsdementiaajcdementiaAnchorage Daily NewsdementiaWashington Postdementia New York Timesdementia BostonGlobe.comdementia San Diego Union-Tribune
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘dementia.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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What Causes Dementia
The causes of Alzheimers and related dementias can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place. While research has found that some changes in the brain are linked to certain forms of dementia, in most cases, the underlying causes are unknown. Rare genetic mutations may cause dementia in a relatively small number of people.
Although there is no proven prevention, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help reduce risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health service
- Your local council
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care Tel. 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres Tel 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Treatment Of Behavior And Mood Problems In Lewy Body Dementia
Behavioral and mood problems in people with LBD can arise from hallucinations, delusions, pain, illness, stress, or anxiety. They may also be the result of frustration, fear, or feeling overwhelmed. The person may resist care or lash out verbally or physically.
Medications are appropriate if the behavior interferes with the person’s care or the safety of the person or others. If medication is used, then the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time is recommended.
The first step is to visit a doctor to see if a medical condition unrelated to LBD is causing the problem. Injuries, fever, urinary tract or pulmonary infections, pressure ulcers , and constipation can worsen behavioral problems and increase confusion.
Certain medications, such as anticholinergics and antihistamines may also cause behavioral problems. For example, some medications for sleep problems, pain, bladder control, and LBD-related movement symptoms can cause confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and delusions. Similarly, some anti-anxiety medicines can actually increase anxiety in people with LBD. Review your medications with your doctor to determine if any changes are needed.
Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
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Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia
The most common FTD, bvFTD, involves changes in personality, behavior, and judgment. People with this disorder may have problems with cognition, but their memory may stay relatively intact. Symptoms can include:
- Problems planning and sequencing
- Difficulty prioritizing tasks or activities
- Repeating the same activity or saying the same word over and over
- Acting impulsively or saying or doing inappropriate things without considering how others perceive the behavior
- Becoming disinterested in family or activities they used to care about
Over time, language and/or movement problems may occur, and the person living with bvFTD will need more care and supervision.
Vascular Dementia: Causes Symptoms And Treatments
Vascular dementia refers to changes to memory, thinking, and behavior resulting from conditions that affect the blood vessels in the brain. Cognition and brain function can be significantly affected by the size, location, and number of vascular changes.
Symptoms of vascular dementia can begin gradually or can occur suddenly, and then progress over time, with possible short periods of improvement. Vascular dementia can occur alone or be a part of a different diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. When an individual is diagnosed with vascular dementia, their symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
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Treatable Causes Of Dementia
There are many conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms that can sometimes be stopped or even reversed with treatment. These conditions include:
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Certain vitamin deficiencies
- Blood clots, tumors, or infections in the brain
- Delirium, a sudden state of confusion and disorientation
- Head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
- Thyroid, kidney, or liver problems
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
Talk with your doctor if you experience serious memory problems or other symptoms of dementia. A proper diagnosis is important to getting the right treatment.
What Is The Life Expectancy For Dementia Can It Be Cured
There is no cure for dementia.
- Although Alzheimer’s disease is listed as the 6th most common cause of death in the U.S.. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease most commonly die due to infections caused by lack of mobility.
- Pneumonia, bladder infections, bedsores, and other causes can lead to more wide-spread infection and subsequent death.
- Patients with dementias have widely varying life expectancies, depending on the underlying cause of their dementia. Life expectancy can range from only 1 to 2 years to more than 15 years the average duration of the disease is between 4 and 8 years after diagnosis.
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Lewy Body Dementia Research
Many avenues of research are being explored to improve our understanding of LBD. Some researchers are working to identify the specific differences in the brain between the two types of LBD. Others are looking at the disease’s underlying biology, genetics, and environmental risk factors. Still other scientists are trying to identify biomarkers , improve screening tests to aid diagnosis, and research new treatments.
Scientists hope that new knowledge about LBD will one day lead to more effective treatments and even ways to cure and prevent the disorder. Until then, researchers need volunteers with and without LBD for clinical studies.
NIH and other groups help people learn about clinical trials and studies and find research opportunities near them. Visit the following websites for details:
Common Forms Of Dementia
There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitive physical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.
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Language Processes In Dlb
DLB is a frequent form of dementia, commonly regarded as a Parkinson-plus syndrome that has the clinical and pathological features of both AD and Parkinson’s disease. In 2005, a DLB Consortium revised the criteria for the clinical and pathologic diagnosis of DLB . According to these criteria, the central clinical diagnostic feature of DLB is the presence of dementia, as well as deficits on tests of attention, executive function, and visuospatial ability whereas memory could remain unimpaired, at least in the early stages of the disease. Two of the following three core features are sufficient for a diagnosis of probable DLB: fluctuating cognition with pronounced variations in attention and alertness, recurrent visual hallucinations that are typically well formed and detailed, and spontaneous features of Parkinsonism. Moreover, the presence of one or more suggestive features can reinforce the diagnosis of DLB.
Susham Gupta MBBS, MRCPsych, MSc, Erum Nomani MBBS, MRCPsych, MA-Med. Law and Ethics, in, 2015
Philip D. Harvey, Richard C. Mohs, in, 2001
Why It’s Important To Get A Diagnosis
Although there is no cure for dementia at the moment, an early diagnosis means its progress can be slowed down in some cases, so the person may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.
A diagnosis helps people with dementia get the right treatment and support. It can also help them, and the people close to them, to prepare for the future.
Read more about how dementia is diagnosed.
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Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
Treating Movement Symptoms In Lewy Body Dementia
LBD-related movement symptoms may be treated with medications used for Parkinson’s disease, called carbidopa-levodopa. These drugs can help make it easier to walk, get out of bed, and move around. However, they cannot stop or reverse the disease itself. Side effects of this medication can include hallucinations and other psychiatric or behavioral problems. Because of this risk, physicians may recommend not treating mild movement symptoms with medication. Other Parkinson’s medications are less commonly used in people with LBD due to a higher frequency of side effects.
People with LBD may benefit from physical therapy and exercise. Talk with your doctor about what physical activities are best.
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