How Is Dementia Treated: Medical & Alternative Dementia Therapies

How Is Dementia Treated: Medical & Alternative Dementia Therapies

Learning a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia can be challenging. You may be experiencing more questions than you have answers. Fortunately, the team at Long Island Alzheimers and Dementia (LIAD) Center can help. 

We offer hands-on services, respite, and stimulating programs for all stages of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Our services are designed to make a positive difference — one person, one family, one community at a time. In addition to our core services, we also provide educational support and resources. 

And one of the top questions we receive at the LIAD Center is “How is dementia treated?” While there is no cure for the condition, dementia symptoms can be treated in a number of ways. Let's take a closer look at how dementia is treated. 

What Medicine Can Be Used to Treat Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias?

Medical treatments and medicines used for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are designed to improve and manage dementia symptoms. Two of the most popular types of medicine are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. 

Cholinesterase Inhibitors for Alzheimer's Disease & Other Forms of Dementia

Galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept), and rivastigmine (Exelon) medicine all work by increasing the levels of a chemical messenger associated with judgment and memory loss. While typically used to treat Alzheimer's disease, this donepezil and others in this class of medication may help with:

When taking these medications, it's important to understand the side effects and risk, which may include diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other potential side effects include sleep disturbances, fainting, and slowed heart rate. 

Memantine Can Help Symptoms of Dementia

Memantine is also recognized as Namenda. This medication is given to those suffering from moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. It can be used with those who have mixed dementia, such as vascular dementia and Alzheimers. Memantine may also be effective for treating those with moderate to severe Lewy bodies dementia. 

Memantine can be utilized for those who may not be able to tolerate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. This medication works by blocking the effects of excessive amounts of glutamate. Side effects of memantine include constipation, dizziness, and headaches.

What Therapies Can Be Used to Treat People with Dementia?

Medication isn't an appropriate dementia treatment for everyone. Because of this, there is a growing field of alternative therapies designed for people with all stages of dementia.

Occupational Therapy for All Stages of Dementia

Occupational therapy treatments for dementia involve steps and procedures that prevent accidents, such as falls. Working with an occupational therapist can result in caregivers creating a safer environment and learning different coping behaviors. It can also work to manage behaviors and prepare the caregiver as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia progresses. 

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Is a Non Drug Treatment for People with Dementia

Among other methods of therapy, the LIAD Center offers different cognitive stimulation therapy. Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is one of the most popular evidence-based methods of intervention for those living with dementia. CST involves the individual with Alzheimer's or other form of dementia taking part in different exercises and group activities designed to improve

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Memory skills
  • Language ability

Is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Effective for People with Dementia?

Research reported by the Saint Louis University School of Medicine shows that CST can be a very effective dementia treatment and can help with dementia symptoms. As a dementia treatment, CST can lead to substantial benefits in an individual's cognitive functioning, as measured by the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-COG) and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). These tests mainly investigate orientation and memory, but visuospatial and language abilities are also tested. 

Because the outcomes measured are utilized in drug trials for someone with dementia, direct comparisons between CST and drugs can be made. The analysis suggests that CST is as effective as different dementia drugs. Additional research suggests CST made a substantial impact on quality of life and language skills, including:

  • Comprehension
  • Word-finding
  • Naming

Does CST Help Caregivers?

CST isn't just an effective solution for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, it can also help caregivers. Based on the aforementioned research and data, caregivers of individuals with dementia reported quality of life improvement. Interview responses from participants in CST and their caregivers found certain key themes:

  • Positive experiences from being in a non-threatening, supportive group setting
  • Improvements in concentration
  • Improvements in mood
  • Confidence improvements

Long Island Alzheimer's & Dementia Center Offers Cognitive Stimulation Therapy & Programming 

At the LIAD Center, each of our sessions have a theme and are stage-specific. Our programming is designed to slow cognitive decline and manage symptoms.

Our sessions and classes feature specific activities based on the interests and abilities of the members. We create consistency by using the same or similar warm-up activities and other strategic tactics. 

While CST was originally designed for brief treatment, increasing research is showing that those who continue with CST can bolster or maintain improvements for longer periods of time. At the LIAD Center, our CST treatments are facilitated by trained health care professionals who specialize in working with those with dementia.

Exercise-Based Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for All Types of Dementia

One variation of CST that we usually incorporate into our session is exercise-based CST. We leverage these sessions to get participants up and moving, which can help stimulate recall and stimulation. These simple but effective exercises are based on the individual's abilities. Examples of exercise-based CST exercises and physical activity include:

  • Do chair exercises
  • Share a ball toss
  • Incorporate stretches

In addition to obvious mobility improvements, exercise-based CST can also help with memory loss and cognitive decline. 

Contact Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

Having a loved one receive a diagnosis of dementia can be alarming and challenging. But we are here to help. At the LIAD Center, we offer a range of services centered around the person with dementia and their abilities. In addition, we offer caregiver support groups designed to help caregivers navigate the best path forward. 

Contact the LIAD Center today online or call (516) 767-6856.

About the Author Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, and their caregivers. We actively work to achieve this mission through research-based programming for all stages of Alzheimer’s, Caregiver Support Groups, in-home respite solutions, transportation options, and additional services.

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