There are a number of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with cognitive impairment and dementia. These include:
Medical and life style modification: Medical and life style modification are key parts of the treatment of dementia. If the person with dementia has high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, atrial fibrillation or diabetes, these conditions need to be treated as we believe that control of these conditions decreases the risk of vascular events and stroke which could worsen the dementia. Life style modification e.g. stopping smoking, cutting back or cutting out alcohol, increasing exercise, better diet, social engagement and getting involved in activities that challenge the brain are good to do as they may help preserve brain function in the face of dementia.
Medications: In the vast majority of cases, Alzheimer’s disease begins in later life and appears to be caused by a combination of inherited (genetic) and environmental factors. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease although there are treatments which can help with symptoms and delay disease progression. The medications most commonly prescribed are called cholinesterase inhibitors (Donepezil, Rivastigmine and Galantamine). These act by boosting a chemical messenger in the brain called Acetylcholine which becomes deficient after nerves cells are damaged. There is also a medication (Memantine) which acts upon a different chemical signalling pathway (Glutamate) and may be useful in the middle to late stages of the disease. These medications may stabilise the symptoms for a limited period of time in certain individuals. None of these medications will cure the condition, although research is continuing to develop new more effective treatments.
Non-Medical Treatments: It is always helpful to consider practical strategies which can maximise your memory. Download “Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Practical Home Guide to Daily Living for Family Members” here.
The Memory Clinic incorporates a Social Work Service to advise patients and relatives about how to go about accessing additional supports in the community. The focus is very much on ensuring that the patient remains at the centre of all treatment decisions to maintain independence and quality of life.