If dementia is caused by an underlying medical condition
that can be treated, such as vitamin deficiency or a brain tumor, treating the
condition may sometimes reverse the symptoms. In most cases, however, dementia
cannot be reversed.
There are a number of treatments that can help the patient
and their family live better with the condition. There are medications that show
promise in helping improve mental function, mood or behavior in the early
stages of dementia.
Treatment may vary, depending on what is causing the
cognitive impairment or dementia. Your doctor may suggest any of the following:
Eat healthful foods including plenty of fruits
Get plenty of rest.
Get regular physical activity.
Try to reduce stress.
Use memory aids (lists, note cards, photos or
other cues) to make important information easier to remember.
Keep appointments with all health care providers.
Manage any health conditions (diabetes, high
blood pressure or high cholesterol)
Take medicine(s) as directed.
Work on hobbies or activities that involve your
mind and body.
There are certain aspects of cognitive impairment and dementia
that can be treated, depending on what is discovered in evaluating the patient.
It if it is discovered that the patient has neuro-degeneration – the loss of
brain neurons, usually progressive – there are methods that can be used to slow
the progression. Many patients and their families are able to live with this
long-term condition similar to how they would live with other chronic
At some point there is a place for palliative care,
which is a discussion to have with your care provider, among other options that
will be discussed at that time. Palliative care is not meant to cure disease,
but can improve both the patient’s and caregiver’s quality of life – physically,
mentally and emotionally.
Richard E. Golden, MD, Allina Health Cognitive Impairment & Memory (Dementia) Program medical director