10 years ago, the society had a couldn’t-care-less attitude towards Dementia as most people thought it was only natural that our health would go downhill as we age, and needed no special attention. Nowadays, Dementia is widely accepted as a disease that needs to be treated though many diagnosed cases are already at the intermediate or later stages where the golden period for treatment has long gone.
In Part 1, we talked about the importance of a timely diagnosis as going from the early stage to the intermediate stage could happen within a year especially if the patients stay at home all the time. But even if one is diagnosed with the disease, one shouldn’t be over-worried as there are ways to slow down the deterioration - the earlier you take the treatment, the better result you get. In this Part 2, let’s go through some of the most common and effective treatments for Dementia.
The winning duo - Drug and non-drug treatment
There are a number of research-proven drug and non-drug treatments for Dementia available on the market. On the drug side, traditional medicines such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists can improve symptoms and delay impairment while some psychiatric medicines like anti-depressants and sedatives are effective for emotional and behavioural problems. However, these are not radical cures. More and more studies have proven that, on the other hand, nutrients are a effective option, attracting research institutes to develop Dementia’s nutritional supplements for medical use. Since they are not drugs, they have fewer side effects and have emerged as a promising new path to treating Dementia.
Non-drug treatment includes conventional methods such as cognitive training, reminiscence therapy and sensory stimulation. Amongst one of the more recent and effective options is cognitive stimulation therapy designed for patients at their early to intermediate stages. It consists of 14 sessions to be participated in small groups which cover a range of activities that stimulate patients to think. The more they use their brain, the more active the communication between their brain cells would be, which would result in deferred brain impairment. This therapy is the only non-drug intervention to be recommended by The UK Department of Health NICE guidelines for cognitive symptoms and maintenance of function.
In addition, there is a new programme made for people with memory difficulties but are not diagnosed with Dementia yet. Through physical exercises, cognitive and social activities, nutrition consultation and more, the programme is research-proven to slow down the pace of memory loss.
Making exercises an interest for greater motivation
It is understandable that some may doubt the effectiveness of physical exercises in preventing Dementia. This is because they are only part of the treatment and patients should get involved in all other abovementioned activities for optimal results. What’s more, physical exercises should include aerobic exercises, such as cycling and jogging, and resistance exercises, such as kicking sandbags and weightlifting.
It’s very likely that the elderly don’t have any interest in any of these exercises. To boost their motivation, we should consider turning exercises into interests for social gathering. For instance, ballroom dance provides a harmonious atmosphere for participants to train their gross-motor muscles while expanding social network. Therefore, children should talk to their parents and help them find the right activity, a way to get twice the result with half the effort.
Dr.Chuang Lai, Specialist in Geriatric Medicine
Danny Y. W. Chan, Occupational Therapist