Ways we treat dementia

Most cases of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have no cure; however, some medications can slow the decline and improve quality of life.

A more recent drug advancement, aducanumab (Aduhelm™), has been approved and given hope to those living with early Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the first therapy to show that removing beta-amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline.

We have various tools to help us diagnose dementia and while many types do not have a cure, we have some treatments that can slow the progression of dementia.While treated here at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, you’ll have a team of memory disorder specialists — including cognitive neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, psychometricians and research coordinators — to put together a medication and treatment plan.

Depending on the type of dementia you or your loved one has, we might prescribe these medications:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors, which help with memory and thinking by slowing the breakdown of an important brain chemical involved in memory functions
  • NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) receptor antagonists, specifically memantine,56 help to regulate the abnormal activity of glutamate in the brain, a chemical important for learning and memory
  • Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to boost the body’s natural defense mechanisms against brain cell damage
  • Medications to help reduce the risk of a stroke
  • Treatments for those with Parkinsonian symptoms
  • Medications to help control abnormal behaviors commonly seen in many dementia conditions

Our pharmacists in the Memory Disorders Clinic can further discuss these medications with you, and our social worker can provide assistance in working with pharmaceutical companies if you’re unable to afford medicines.

Nondrug therapies for dementia

Many people with dementia develop behavioral problems such as agitation, depression, sleep disturbances, restlessness, anxiety, false beliefs and hallucinations.

Along with medication, we can often treat these with environmental or behavioral techniques that can lessen or sometimes eliminate these disturbances. Some of these approaches include:

  • Occupational therapy – Our occupational therapists offer tips on how to modify home environments to make them safer and less stressful for those with dementia. This includes preventing falls, reducing clutter and noise to allow better focus, hiding dangerous objects, like knives, and installing monitoring systems for safety.
  • Social work – Our highly trained social workers can link you and your caregiver to community resources and options with assisted living, nursing homes and daycare facilities. 
  • Proven stress-reducing techniques – We’ll work to educate you and your caregiver on how to limit stressors and deal with conflict. Some ideas include creating routines to reduce confusion and breaking tasks into smaller steps to allow for focusing on success.
Learn more about dementia

Learn more about dementia

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