How to Handle Dementia
Dementia can become a part of life as one gets older. Symptoms can include changes in personality, reasoning impairment, and difficulty with memory. Alzheimer’s disease is a very common form of this type of disease. Dementia is often classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Health care professionals also use a scale of 1-7, with 1 representing no dementia symptoms and 7 representing very severe symptoms. Although there is no cure, there are some ways to slow down the disease and maintain the quality of life.
Therapy can be helpful when done correctly. It can be used to help keep the mind sharp and improve the mood. That being said, when done too aggressively it can cause frustration. There are a two main types of therapy that can be done:
Cognitive stimulation therapy
This is a form of group therapy designed to be mentally engaging. Examples of activities include cooking, singing, and discussing current events. Group therapy has the added bonus of being a social event, which can help with depression.
This is simply the act of discussing the past. Good topics include hobbies, family members, childhood, and hometowns. Listening to old music, eating favorite foods, etc. can help boost the brain and bring a sense of peace.
There is not currently a medication on the market that can completely stop the progression of this disease. That being said, some medicines can help with symptoms, at least for a while. Common medications prescribed for mild to moderate dementia include:
- Antidepressants: These drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in particular, can help with irritability or feeling down.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors: These are a type of medications that can slow the breakdown of the chemical in the brain associated with memory and judgment.
- Memantine (Namenda): This drug is prescribed for patients with mild to moderate dementia in order to improve memory and learning.
- Anti-psychotic medications: These may be called for to help treat aggression, delusions, or hallucinations.
Basic healthy lifestyle habits can help to slow dementia and reduce its symptoms. It is important for anyone with mild to moderate dementia to:
- Get plenty of sleep. Dementia symptoms can get more severe as the day goes on. An early bedtime or nap can help with this.
- Exercise. It is believed that proper exercise can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as slow down thinking problems.
- Eat the right foods. There are diets out there that are aimed at slowing dementia. They are usually high in vegetables and fish, while low in red meat and sugars.
- Engage mentally. Anything from crossword puzzles to dancing can help the brain exercise and stay strong.
- Get eyes and ears checked regularly. Having impaired vision or hearing can make the symptoms of dementia much more frustrating.