15.2.1 Treatments for dementia
Memory loss cannot be reversed, but you can minimise suffering in people affected by dementia by using these tips. It is important that you give tips to a person with memory loss, so that they do not have to learn new information, which is the most difficult thing for people with dementia.
- Put your keys in an obvious place.
- Put labels on cupboards, drawers or boxes.
- Instruct family members to remind you when you forget things.
- Try to memorise unfamiliar things by associating them with well-known things.
Try to review regularly the person’s ability to perform daily tasks safely, behavioural problems and their general physical condition. You need to make sure the person and their family understand that the condition may impair their ability to function properly, and to encourage the family to give support in the care of the person.
There are no medical treatments that reverse the effects of dementia. Drug treatment can, however, help manage some symptoms and improve the lives of people with dementia and their families. Drugs can be used in people with dementia to treat:
- Cognitive symptoms (symptoms that affect thinking and reasoning)
- Behavioural symptoms (symptoms that affect behaviour)
- Sleep problems.
For example, if depression is a problem, antidepressants (see Study Session 12) can be given by a doctor. Similarly, behavioural disturbances or psychosis associated with dementia can be treated by antipsychotic drugs (see Study Session 13).