Dementia is a progressive disease. Unfortunately, there is no curative treatment. However, a lot can be done to improve the quality of life of the PwD and their carers if the diagnosis is made early and appropriate measures are put in place to plan for the future, thus avoiding many a crisis.
Medicines currently available for the treatment of some types of dementia can help in slowing down the disease process. They also can help in managing some of the common behavioural challenges such as restlessness, aggression, sleep disturbance, etc. They are best chosen and monitored by physicians who are experienced in managing persons with dementia. Also, it is important to note that some medicines may not be appropriate for certain types of dementia.
Best outcomes for persons with dementia and their carers are achieved with multi-disciplinary, person centred approach involving the family members as well as professionals like dementia trained nurse, psychologists, home care assistants, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc. Understanding the uniqueness of the person with dementia and exploring the meaning of some of their symptoms often help in identifying right interventions. Good nursing interventions will be necessary in those with more severe condition.
Some non-drug interventions for dementia include:
- Cognitive Stimulation: Participating in activities and exercises designed to improve memory, problem-solving skills and language ability especially in group settings that facilitate communication and social interaction
- Reminiscence: Using the PwD’s past information and stories from their child and young adulthood (which in most cases remain intact) to relate to the present.
- Validation therapy: Using empathy and listening as the key tools to facilitate well-being in conjunction with talking therapies
- Functional Analysis: Using rehabilitative techniques to manage aggression, anxiety, delusions and hallucinations, wandering behaviours by understanding the motivation driving the behaviour and tackling it at that level
Other therapies used with people with dementia include Cognitive behavioral therapy to help reduce their day to day distress, Supportive psychotherapy and family therapy to help the family understand and resolve conflicts in a manner that aids the patient and the family as a whole.