Posted on May 12, 2008 by DementiaGuide
Taking care of someone with dementia
Dementia is a serious disease that requires ongoing medical care. While dementia often leads to hospitalization in the later stages, it is common for family members or close friends to take on the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia.
Since a hallmark of dementia is an impaired ability to care for oneself, it is important that persons with dementia receive the attention they need to function at the highest level possible. It is almost as important that caregivers receive help and support in coping with their caregiving situation, understanding the disease, and dealing with daily challenges.
Living with dementia at home
In the earlier stages of the dementia, it is common for persons with dementia to live on their own, with regular visits by a friend or family member to ensure they are doing okay and their condition has not worsened considerably. In some cases, the person with dementia may live on his or her own for some time with part-time care given by a visiting nurse, aide, or care provider. Finally, persons with dementia who require 24-hour supervision may choose to hire a live-in nurse. Whenever possible, many people prefer to remain in their own home as it allows them a greater sense of independence and a stronger sense of self. However, it is often necessary to modify their homes to prevent accidents that may occur due to a loss in mobility and growing sense of disorientation.
Finally, during the later stages of dementia, it is often necessary to move the person with dementia into an assisted-living or long-term nursing facility where they may receive constant care and supervision.
General recommendations for dementia management
Regardless of whether persons with dementia are living in or outside their home, it is important for them to exercise their minds and bodies on a regular basis. Daily walks, puzzles, games, reading, and group social activities are all beneficial for person with dementia.
Medical treatment of dementia
The goal of dementia treatment is to improve the quality of life for the person with the disease. Although dementia is incurable, certain medications have proven useful in slowing the progression of the disease and relieving certain symptoms. Specifically, cholinesterase inhibitors (including Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl)which are often used to prevent the breakdown of an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and NMDA receptor antagonists (including Exiba, and Namenda), have shown decrease in clinical deterioration such as improved mental function and symptomatic improvement.
New drug therapies are constantly being investigated by pharmaceutical companies. Today, over 72 new drugs for dementia are in various stages of their approval process compared to about 9 only a few years ago.
Barring medications, medical treatment for dementia varies widely depending on the existence of other underlying conditions, and medical problems that arise as a direct result of dementia, which are treated on a case-by-case basis.
Screening for Dementia
Dementia Advocacy & Support Network