What Is The Treatment For Symptoms And Complications Of Dementia
Some symptoms and complications of dementia can be relieved by medical treatment, even if no treatment exists for the underlying cause of the dementia.
- Behavioral disorders may improve with individualized therapy aimed at identifying and changing specific problem behaviors.
- Mood swings and emotional outbursts may be treated with mood-stabilizing drugs.
- Agitation and psychosis may be treated with antipsychotic medication or, in some cases, anticonvulsants.
- Seizures usually require anticonvulsant medication.
- Sleeplessness can be treated by changing certain habits and, in some cases, by taking medication.
- Bacterial infections require treatment with antibiotics.
- Dehydration and malnutrition may be treated with rehydration and supplements or with behavioral therapies.
- Aspiration, pressure sores, and injuries can be prevented with appropriate care.
How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.
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.
Also Check: What To Do If You Suspect Someone Has Dementia
Reversible And Irreversible Cognitive Disorders
Often, mental health professionals classify cognitive disorders into two broad categories: those that are irreversible and those that are reversible . Dementias are irreversible, progressive, degenerative disorders that gradually reduce a persons ability to function in everyday life. A person with dementia cannot regain his or her previous level of functioning, even though some symptoms may be managed through treatment. Examples of irreversible dementias include Alzheimers Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and Dementia caused by the AIDS/HIV virus.
On the other hand, the progression of reversible cognitive disorders can be halted by identifying the cause of the symptoms and properly treating the underlying disorder. With appropriate treatment, a persons previous level of functioning can be restored. Examples of reversible cognitive disorders are pseudodementia and delirium, which will be described later.
Although amnestic disorder is also included in the cognitive disorders category in the DSM-IV, we will not discuss it here. From our perspective, amnestic disorder more closely aligns with dissociative disorders . So, we will cover amnestic disorders at a later date in another topic center.
Causes Of Potentially Reversible Dementia Symptoms
Worried that a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease? While you may be right, you should be sure to have a physician conduct a thorough evaluation to be certain. Some illnesses and conditions that look and act like Alzheimer’s are reversible with appropriate treatment.
Here are 10 potentially reversible causes of dementia symptoms:
Recommended Reading: What Happens If Dementia Is Not Treated
What Is An Example Of Reversible Dementia
In the literature, the most frequently observed potentially reversible conditions identified in patients with cognitive impairment or dementia are depression, adverse effects of drugs, drug or alcohol abuse, space-occupying lesions, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and metabolic conditions land endocrinal conditions like
How Dementia Affects Cognition
Dementia is a syndrome, a collection or grouping of symptoms that can affect, damage, or destroy cells in the brain. Dementia is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. Dementia can be the main cause of brain disease or it can develop as a result of accidents, tumors and cysts, concussions, cardiovascular disorders, uncontrolled diabetes, neurologic disorders such as Parkinsons disease, alcohol and drug abuse, and a number of other disorders and diseases.
Dementia affects cognition: thinking, memory, judgment, learning, language comprehension, attitudes, beliefs, safety awareness, morals, and the ability to plan for the future are all affected to some degree. Dementia also affects motor and sensory functions such as balance, spatial awareness, vision, pain processing, and the ability to modulate sensory input.
You May Like: How Is Frontotemporal Dementia Causes
Medication Adverse Effects And Interactions
Cognitive impairment resulting from prescribed medications is more likely to occur in older than younger adults because theyre already vulnerable to dementia caused by neurodegeneration. Adding a moderately neurotoxic medication might trigger delirium or memory issues.
To definitively identify a medication thats causing dementia symptoms, the drug causing impairment would have to have been administered before confusion onset and return to normal cognitive baseline would have to occur when the medication is stopped. However, these conditions rarely are met because many older adults take multiple medications. Medicines that can potentiate delirium in adults older than 65 years are found in the American Geriatric Society 2019 Beers Criteria®. These medicationsincluding those with strong anticholinergic properties, conventional and atypical antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and nonbenzodiazepine and benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnoticsshould be avoided.
Medications causing dementia-like symptoms should be discontinued, as ordered by the provider, while still treating the underlying medical condition. You can educate patients about the risks of taking multiple drugs, work with them to ensure theyre taking only essential medications, and recommend alternative medications when necessary. Always ask patients if theyre taking any over-the-counter medicines, supplements, or natural products, which may adversely interact with prescribed medications.
Causes Of The Dementia Syndrome
Many different disease states can produce the clinical syndrome of dementia. These can be divided into two groups:
* Reversible * Irreversible
Reversible dementia syndrome
The term reversible or potentially/ partially reversible is used to define a cognitive disorder in which normal or nearly normal function may be restored. The potential to reverse or delay deterioration emphasizes the importance of an early diagnosis of a reversible dementia. The most common causes of reversible dementia are depression, delirium, and drug toxicity. Other causes include normal pressure hydrocephalus, neoplasms, metabolic disorders, trauma, medications and infections.
Irreversible dementia syndrome
The most common causes of irreversible dementia include:
* Alzheimers disease
These account for at least 7080% of all cases.
Less common, and more difficult to recognize clinically, are:
* Dementia of Lewy body type * Picks disease
Patients, especially geriatrics, with irreversible dementia are commonly placed in nursing homes for special care.
Diagnosing Alzheimers disease
Although the prospect of developing a cure is unlikely in the foreseeable future, new symptomatic treatments are becoming available. This further supports the value of early recognition of AD.
Figure 2. National history of Alzheimers disease
Figure 3. Causes of dementia
International Psychogeriatric Association
Dementia Due To Metabolic Causes
Dementia is loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases.
Dementia due to metabolic causes is a loss of brain function that can occur with abnormal chemical processes in the body. With some of these disorders, if treated early, brain dysfunction can be reversible. Left untreated, permanent brain damage, such as dementia, can occur.
Its Not Necessarily Alzheimers
More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia, and a small percentage of dementias are reversible. Two common examples are dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid . Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have, because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated.
Don’t Miss: Does Ted Turner Have Dementia
Distinguishing Between Types Of Dementia
For physicians and families intent on pinning down a diagnosis, one major complicating factor is the existence of so many kinds of dementia. More than 50 conditions can mimic or cause dementia.
Alzheimers disease is by far the most common intractable condition. But other causes of irreversible dementia include blood vessel diseasevascular dementia), other degenerative disorders , slow-growing brain tumors, or infections of the central nervous system .
In some types of dementia, treatment will improve mental functioning, and in a small percentage, the dementia is completely reversible if treatment begins before permanent brain damage occurs. Thats why it is important to report to a doctor any signs of dementia as early as possible.
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a personâs daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a personâs functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
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.
You May Like: What Are The Signs Of Dementia In Humans
Are Dementia Senility And Alzheimers Disease The Same Things
- Dementia occurs most commonly in elderly people it used to be called senility and/or senile dementia, and was considered a normal part of aging. Affected people were labeled as demented. The term âsenile dementiaâ is infrequently used in the current medical literature and has been replaced by the term âdementia.â
- âSenile dementia,ââsenility,â and âdementedâ are older outdated terms that incorrectly label people with memory loss, confusion and other symptoms as a normal part of aging.
- Dementia, as defined above, is a constellation of ongoing symptoms that are not part of normal aging that have a large number of different causes, for example, Alzheimerâs disease is the major cause of dementia in individuals but it is only one of many problems that can cause dementia.
Symptoms of dementia vary considerably by the individual and the underlying cause of the dementia. Most people affected by dementia have some of these symptoms. The symptoms may be very obvious, or they may be very subtle and go unrecognized for some time. The first sign of dementia is usually loss of short-term memory. The person repeats what he just said or forgets where she put an object just a few minutes ago. Other symptoms and signs are as follows:
Early dementia symptoms and signs
Dont Miss: How To Decrease Risk Of Alzheimers Disease
Also Check: Is Parkinson A Form Of Dementia
Is Dementia Reversible A Simple Test May Tell
Bottom Line: The accuracy of testing can be as high as 97%…
Source: A study, Gait Analysis in PSP and NPH: Dual-Task Conditions Make the Difference, published in the February 21, 2018, online edition of Neurology.
Sign up to be a Bottom Line Insider today!
Get The Latest Health, Life & Money Trends
How well can you do two things at once? For people with certain forms of dementia, the answer is quite telling.
Background: A neurological condition known as idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus causes symptoms that are often confused with other forms of dementia. When iNPH is misdiagnosed, its particularly troubling because the symptoms caused by this conditionunlike other forms of dementiaare reversible.
iNPH is caused by excess fluid in the brain, and its symptoms include walking, balance and thinking problems. Because it is so often misdiagnosed, researchers wanted to find a way to help doctors easily identify it. Heres what they came up with
Recent study: Among its symptoms, iNPH causes a distinctive gait disturbance , so researchers devised a test that involves walking while simultaneously performing a simple task that challenges a persons thinking skills. The speed with which the tasks could be performed was surprisingly accurate in identifying people who had iNPH.
A study, Gait Analysis in PSP and NPH: Dual-Task Conditions Make the Difference, published in the February 21, 2018, online edition of Neurology.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
If you have never clearly understood the reversible dementia causes and symptoms, you came to the right place. In short, in this article, we discuss the most common ones that you need to be aware of.
One of the most disheartening dementia facts is that it has no cure.
This implies that if a person gets a positive dementia diagnosis, they will have to live with it until their last day.
This said, it is important to note that some conditions exhibit dementia-like symptoms, which can make one confuse other diseases or infections for dementia.
These are often known as reversible dementia causes and some of them include:
Read Also: How To Explain Dementia To A Child
Is There Treatment Available
There is not yet a cure for FTD, or any disease modifying treatment. However, various therapies can help with some of the symptoms. Secondary symptoms, such as depression, may be helped by medication.
Knowing more about FTD and why the person is behaving as they are can help people to cope with the disease.
Family members and carers can, with support, develop coping strategies to work around problems rather than trying to change the behaviour of the person with FTD.
Psychological therapies are important to help manage abnormal behaviour.
Speech therapy is of benefit to people with PNFA, particularly in helping to develop alternative communication methods.
The input of an occupational therapist can help improve everyday functioning at home.
Treating And Managing Dementia Symptoms
Dementia symptoms generally begin to appear later in life, after or around age 60, with the most common form being Alzheimer’s disease. Most forms of dementia are treatable, but not curable. For treatable, but degenerative forms of dementia, medication can help manage symptoms, although for most people, there are only modest benefits to treatment.
However, sometimes dementia symptoms may be caused by treatable conditions, and if the underlying conditions are treated, the patient’s mental functions can at least partially, if not completely, improve. It is estimated that about 20 percent of patients with dementia symptoms actually have a curable condition, thus it is important to rule these out in order to make a firm diagnosis of a degenerative type of dementia.
Don’t Miss: What Age Do You Get Dementia
Whats The Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia
Dementia isnt a disease, but a description of symptoms including loss of memory, ability to focus and reason, and other mental issues that can interfere with daily life. Alzheimers disease, characterized by plaques that kill off brain cells, is considered the most common cause of dementia, but it isnt fully understood. A study at Northwestern University in Chicago found that some people in their 90s, with widespread Alzheimers brain plaques, presented no symptoms and continued to have superior memory throughout their lives.
Strokes, Parkinsons disease, and other conditions can also damage brain cells and produce dementia symptoms, but sometimes there is simply no known cause. The 90+ Study, which began in 2003 and has looked at more than 1,600 people in their 90s, has found that half of those with dementia have no known physical manifestations in their brains to explain the condition.
Did You Know?
Dementia isnt a disease, but a description of symptoms, including memory loss.
Reversible Dementia: Is It Dementia
For a clinical diagnosis of dementia, deficits in memory and in at least one other cognitive domain must be documented, the deficits should interfere with occupational or social functioning, and there must be evidence of a systemic or brain disorder that may be the primary cause of the cognitive deficits . The American Academy of Neurology practice parameter recommends structural neuroimaging, which may include CT or MRI, and screening for depression, vitamin B12 deficiency, and hypothyroidism. Based on these criteria the screening for syphilis without risk factors is not justified. Neuroimaging screening evaluations are recommended to detect conditions such as subdural hematomas, cerebral infarcts, cerebral tumors, and normal pressure hydrocephalus .
Recommended Reading: What Is Alzheimer Disease And What Causes It
Home Health Care Specialists Understand Urinary Tract Infections
Infections, including urinary tract infections, can damage nerves and brain cells. That can lead to temporary mental disorientation. The disorientation can be mistaken for the onset of dementia by those unfamiliar with the interaction between it and UTIs.
Temporary dementia can be successfully treated and potentially reversed if the cause is removed. Reversible dementia has much of the same symptoms as irreversible dementia, so testing is necessary to determine the cause.
Dementia due to infection may occur rapidly, which is a telltale difference between a reversible and an irreversible condition.
Home health care professionals are trained to observe and evaluate any changes in patients. Individuals with dementia arent always able to express whats happening in their minds and bodies. Pegasus caregivers have the ability to elicit information and understand what is or isnt significant.
If the individual already has dementia, a UTI can worsen it. That makes it even more important to find the cause for any disorientation. Treat the infection, and dementia may improve.