Managing Dementia

General Information

  • Since Alzheimer’s Disease is a slowly progressive brain disease that begins many years before symptoms emerge, the supports that are needed and the types of things that can help individuals and families will change over time as the disease evolves
  • The progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia  is highly variable
  • Some medications are available to manage symptoms of dementia, but there are not currently any medications that can completely treat or cure Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Non –medication management of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia have the goal of helping to maintain or improve cognitive function, assisting with the performance of  activities of daily living and improving overall quality of life. Like medication treatments, they have not been demonstrated to cure Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
  • Managing  coexisting conditions like depression or pain is likely to improve functioning and quality of life
  •  Coordination of care between health care professionals and  informal caregivers (such as family) can maximize independence and quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers
  • While there is no clear way to prevent dementia, staying physically active, eating a balance and nutritious diet, and being socially active and engaged in meaningful activities can help to protect against the disease or potentially delay the onset
  • Though the care provided by family members of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is somewhat similar to the help provided by caregivers of people with other chronic conditions, there are also some important difference. Caregivers of individuals with dementia tend to provide more extensive assistance and may experience increased burden. There is often societal stigma towards individuals with dementia and sometimes this can “spill over’ and negatively impact caregivers and families. This may worsen social isolation for everyone dealing with the day-to-day experience of coping with dementia.
  • Early identification of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia can be helpful in that individuals with dementia and their families may plan most effectively to provide appropriate supports as the illness evolves over time