Receiving a dementia diagnosis or being close to someone living with dementia can be a challenging, life-altering experience, particularly because it is generally progressive. However, medications for dementia can help significantly. Getting the proper treatments and working together with your doctor and a mental health professional may enable you to manage the condition as effectively as possible. You may quickly and easily connect with a licensed therapist by joining an online therapy platform.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is generally a term used to describe a collection of medical conditions that can impact memory and other cognitive abilities to an extent that’s severe enough to interfere with daily life. No matter what type of dementia you may live with, the condition can impair your mind and, over time, it may cause severe memory loss.
The most common type of dementia is usually Alzheimer’s disease, which can account for around 60% to 80% of all diagnosed cases. Also common can be vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and other conditions, like Huntington’s disease. It can also be possible to experience what’s typically known as mixed dementia, which can occur when a person experiences the changes associated with multiple types of dementia at once.
Medications For Dementia Patients
Please note that the following information does not constitute medical advice and is only intended for general educational purposes. Always consult a licensed medical professional about starting, stopping, or changing any form of medication.
Memantine can manage the glutamate in your brain. Glutamate is a chemical that is usually involved in several key brain functions, such as learning and memory. Taking memantine has the potential to improve a patient's cognitive abilities in the short term. Even if it isn't necessarily a long-term solution, it can be a promising medication that may help millions of people around the world.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are another important medication your doctor may prescribe. They can boost certain chemical levels in your brain, which may improve memory. It’s possible that cholinesterase inhibitors may combat other symptoms that can come with dementia as well, including impaired judgment.
Both of the medications above can be commonly prescribed to treat Alzheimer's disease, but they can be useful for treating all forms of dementia. Most medications for dementia and Alzheimer's seek to improve memory function by boosting particular chemicals in the brain. They generally do their best to offset the damage that dementia can cause to your cognitive capabilities.
It can also be very common for people to develop mental health disorders like depression and anxiety when living with dementia. This may stem from physical changes to the brain, the emotional weight that may accompany a diagnosis, or both. Doctors may prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to help patients manage symptoms.
Medications For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is often treated differently than other types of dementia. Vascular dementia typically occurs after a patient has experienced a stroke. This form of dementia can also be brought about due to extremely high blood pressure, unchecked thyroid problems, high cholesterol, issues with blood sugar, and vitamin deficiencies.
Treatment for vascular dementia may involve prescribing high blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications, vitamins, diabetes medications, and more. To treat vascular dementia, you will likely need to eliminate or improve the conditions that may have contributed to it in the first place.
Therapy Can Help Alongside Medication
While medications are often used to help those living with dementia limit the severity of their symptoms, they often are not enough to completely support a person through treatment and long-term care. In addition to medication, certain therapies may be used to treat dementia or provide support to those living with it. These therapies may not be capable of changing what is happening to a patient in a medical sense, but they may provide important resources, build skills, and take steps to prolong a person’s cognitive functioning for as long as possible.
Music therapy, art therapy, and similar treatment options can help some dementia patients stimulate their minds while also pursuing therapeutic goals like expressing emotions and solving problems. Traditional “talk therapy” may also be used to give patients a space to discuss their experiences, learn how to navigate challenges, and more.
In terms of combatting symptoms head-on, cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is perhaps one of the best options to pursue. Research even suggests that cognitive stimulation therapy may improve quality of life for those diagnosed with dementia. However, cognitive function does not have to tie to how a person experiences life. Other factors, like lower levels of depression and more independence, can also help. Therapy options of all sorts can help a person achieve these goals, too.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
One accessible way to get treatment options that work for your needs and goals may be through online therapy. You generally don't have to leave the comfort of your home to join sessions, which can be especially useful for those whose mobility or ability to travel independently is limited. Plus, being able to connect with providers who specialize in various areas may make it easier to find someone who fits your needs and preferences.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can provide effective care to those living with dementia and their loved ones. For instance, a 2023 study investigating the efficacy of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy found that it could treat depression symptoms in people living with chronic conditions like dementia.
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