What dementia treatments are available?
Sadly, there is no cure for dementia, but medication is available that can slow down the progression of dementia symptoms. However, research published in 2017 in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders showed that comprehensive, personalised interventions can be approximately 10 times more effective than medication alone. For this reason, we develop personal care plans tailored to our patients’ needs to help mitigate the effects of dementia. Our plans focus on both medication and psychosocial interventions that can make managing dementia easier.
The importance of an early diagnosis
Early diagnosis of dementia offers a range of benefits, including:
- a better chance of benefiting from available treatment
- prioritising your health needs
- reducing anxiety about your symptoms
- maximising time with your family
- early access to appropriate resources and support
- more time to plan for the future, including legal and financial matters and your care preferences
According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence, there is also strong evidence that an early diagnosis can help someone with dementia to continue to live independently for longer.
With MemoryClinix there is no waiting list, our qualified professionals can help you get an early diagnosis.
How to diagnose dementia?
Our multidisciplinary team at Psychiatry-UK is able to offer expert assessment and support for people dealing with MCI or dementia.
An assessment with a dementia specialist will involve a discussion of your symptoms and how they have affected your day-to-day life.
The psychiatrist will perform a mental state examination (MSE) to assess your symptoms objectively including specific tests to gauge your ability to think clearly or to remember things.
Further investigations may also be necessary, such as blood tests (e.g. to check for any vitamin B12 or thyroid deficiencies) and sometimes a brain scan. A scan is important not only for supporting a diagnosis of dementia, but also for revealing other medical conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms.
Our specialist will then discuss these findings with you.
The diagnosis of MCI or dementia is based on:
- the psychiatric interview
- the evaluation of your ability to function independently on a daily basis
- the collateral history provided by your GP and/or your next of kin
- results from the memory tests
- result from a head scan
Planning for the future
Living with dementia has a serious impact on your life, so it is vital that you plan for the future with your loved ones.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Lasting power of attorney (LPA): a legal document allowing you to nominate a loved one to act on your behalf. There are two types of LPA: property and health and welfare.
- Adaptations: to maintain an independent life at home, you may need to install equipment to aid your movement and day-to-day life.
- Care costs: paying for care can be very expensive and can be a burden for your loved ones. Ask your family to get as much information and support as possible, so you can make informed decisions when the time comes.
- Transport: having dementia does not mean you must stop driving immediately, but you need to understand that your symptoms will affect your driving ability. Identify alternative transport options such as taxis, public transport and community minibuses.
Our team can offer advice on these issues when formulating your personal care plan and support packages.
Whether you are a sufferer or know someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, we offer a range of virtual support services, including:
- Pharmaceutical intervention: antidementia medication can slow down the progression of cognitive symptoms of dementia. Our experts may also recommend other psychotropic drugs to counter the non-cognitive symptoms of dementia such as depression, anxiety, apathy, poor motivation, agitation, challenging behaviour, irritability, wandering or sleep disturbance.
- Occupational therapy: our occupational therapist will conduct an assessment to identify any emotional, behavioural and cognitive needs and how they impact on your daily functioning. A course of six to eight sessions could also be offered to explore methods to support a person to manage everyday life skills such as personal care, shopping, cooking, and budgeting. Our occupational therapist can provide practical solutions to assist people succeed and feel more empowered.
- Virtual cognitive stimulation therapy (vCST)*: 14 sessions covering themed activities designed to improve the mental abilities and memory of people with mild to moderate dementia, carried out over seven or 14 weeks in small groups of four persons with dementia and two facilitators.
- Virtual carers support groups (vCSG)*: four coaching sessions per month for carers to help them learn what dementia is and how to communicate effectively with a person with dementia. To prevent caregiver burnout, we will also provide self-care sessions for family carers.
- Talking therapy*: can be useful in discussing ways to express what the patient and/or family carer feel(s) and how to work through those emotions.
Based on your support services, we will formulate a person-centred care plan adapted to your personal needs, history and habits.
* The vCST, vCSG sessions and talking therapy are facilitated by our collaborators from Memory Matters to whom we will refer our patients and family carers following an initial assessment and diagnosis.