The word “dementia” covers a wide range of symptoms that impact a person’s ability to think, remember, and engage in social activities. Because it has such a wide ranging definition, dementia requires an equally wide range of treatments. Take the short quiz below to see how much you know about dementia treatment.
1. True or false: Although most types of dementia can’t be cured, treatment can help slow the negative effects.
Answer: True. Every case is different, but in many cases treatments can slow the rate at which symptoms progress. Identifying symptoms and discussing them with a doctor can significantly impact quality of life both for those suffering with dementia and those caring for them.
2. True or false: Dementia treatment almost never includes medication.
Answer: False. Again, every individual’s dementia is different, but in some cases medications may provide some relief. Two classes of drugs are employed with some frequency: cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Both of these help to regulate chemicals that improve or maintain memory function.
3. Which of the following can assist a person with dementia?
A. Maintaining regular routines whenever possible.
B. Breaking down an activity into smaller, clearly defined steps.
C. Talking through an activity as it is occurring.
D. All of the above.
Answer: D. All of the above can help to reduce confusion. A person with dementia will feel more comfortable if he or she knows that the daily routine includes eating breakfast, then brushing teeth, then getting dressed, etc. If Mom is going to help you set the table, go through the task with her: open the big cabinet. Take out four plates. Put one plate on the table in front of each of the chairs. Take the napkins from the napkin holder. Put one napkin by the side of each plate. If necessary, talk her through it as she goes along: “You just need to pull the cabinet door a little bit. That’s good. Those are the plates we need.”
4. In most cases, would a person with dementia benefit from working with an occupational therapist?
Answer: Yes. This is especially true if the occupational therapist begins work in the early stages of the patient’s dementia. A therapist can suggest practical coping mechanisms and point out exercises and modifications that can prove helpful.
5. True or false: Environmental factors have little impact on a person with dementia.
Answer: False. A person with dementia needs to feel comfortable and at ease in his or her living space. Too much noise can be confusing, as can changing the arrangement of furniture or the placement of favorite objects.
Dementia treatment can be time consuming and taxing. If you are tending to a loved one with dementia, it’s important that you not neglect yourself and your needs. The better you feel, the better care you can provide.