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Dementia - Treatment Overview

Some cases of dementia are caused by medical conditions that can be treated, and treatment can restore some or all mental function. But most of the time, dementia cannot be reversed.

Treatment when dementia can be reversed

Sometimes treating the cause of dementia helps the dementia. For example, the person might:

Treatment when dementia can't be reversed

If the cause of dementia cannot be treated, the doctor will work with the person and caregivers to develop a plan to make life easier and more comfortable. This is a good time to ask for information on local palliative care programs. Palliative care can help improve quality of life for the caregivers and for the person with dementia long before end of life. For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.

Care plans may include:

  • Tips to help the person be independent and manage daily life as long as possible. For more information, see Home Treatment.
  • Medicine. While medicines cannot cure dementia, they may help improve mental function, mood, or behavior.
  • Support and counseling. A diagnosis of dementia can create feelings of anger, fear, and anxiety. A person in the early stage of the illness should seek emotional support from family, friends, and perhaps a counselor experienced in working with people who have dementia.

Planning for the future

If possible, make decisions while your loved one is able to take part in the decision making. These are difficult but important conversations. Questions include:

  • What kind of care does he or she need right now?
  • Who will take care of him or her in the future?
  • What can the family expect as the disease progresses?
  • What kind of financial and legal planning needs to be done?

Education of the family and other caregivers is critical to successfully caring for someone who has dementia. If you are or will be a caregiver, start learning what you can expect and what you can do to manage problems as they arise. For more information, see Home Treatment.

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