june 1, 2023

what’s new?

dementia treatments and medications

Music Therapy - Mother and Daughter

(Reminder: This blog is meant to serve as informational. Please discuss any questions with your loved one’s doctor.)

Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

Along with cognitive decline, many individuals living with dementia will develop behavioral and psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, agitation, apathy, and delusions, among others. Non-pharmacological interventions can potentially reduce these symptoms. Studies are under way to determine which non-pharmacological approaches are most effective.

At Winter Growth, we utilize the following interventions, among others:

  • Physical exercise
  • Music therapy
  • Cognitive interventions, such as cognitive stimulation, reminiscent conversation, or cognitive training (e.g. pattern detection)

Other interventions being investigated by researchers include acupuncture, massage therapy, and non-invasive brain stimulation.

A Word about Supplements…

The Alzheimer’s Association website explicitly states “not a single food, beverage, ingredient, vitamin, or supplement has been proven to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease or to benefit cognitive function or brain health.”

It is worth noting that there are legitimate concerns about using some supplements such as Caprylic Acid and Coconut Oil, Coenzyme Q10, Ginkgo Biloba, Huperzine A and others as an alternative or in addition to physician-prescribed therapy. Always remember, it’s not “simply a vitamin.” Supplement use should always be discussed with your loved one’s physician.

3 Things to Consider:

  • Effectiveness and safety are unknown. The rigorous scientific research required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the approval of a prescription drug is not required by law for the marketing of dietary supplements. The maker of a dietary supplement is not required to provide the FDA with the evidence on which it bases its claims for safety and effectiveness.
  • Purity is unknown. The FDA has no authority over supplement production. It is a manufacturer’s responsibility to develop and enforce its own guidelines for ensuring that its products are safe and contain the ingredients listed on the label in the specified amounts.
  • Dietary supplements can have serious interactions with prescribed medications. No one should take a supplement without first consulting a physician.

Pharmacology/Medications Treatments

Per its website, The Mayo Clinic acknowledges the frustration of awaiting new treatment options as medications go through the slow process of development. “To help accelerate discovery, the Coalition Against Major Diseases (CAMD), an alliance of pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit foundations and government advisers, has forged a first-of-its-kind partnership to share data from Alzheimer’s clinical trials.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers-treatments/art-20047780

“The FDA has approved medications that fall into two categories: drugs that change disease progression in people living with early Alzheimer’s disease, and drugs that may temporarily mitigate some symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia.” With either category, it is important to remember that a clinician who is experienced in using these types of medications should monitor people who are taking them and ensure that the recommended guidelines are strictly observed. You can read more about these medications at: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/treatments/medications-for-memory.

A Few Final Thoughts

This particular blog has been geared to those already living with a diagnosis of dementia. Many people, however, are fighting hard to eradicate dementia via research targeting preventive measures. Other researchers are focusing on early detection and on providing the best quality of life for those with dementia.

Recent articles related to prevention and detection research include diet considerations and genetic testing*.

*When considering genetic testing, consult first with your primary care physician to determine if it is appropriate for you or a family member.

In September 2022, the Alzheimer’s Association posted a brief handout about utilizing genetic testing regarding the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The Association advises that when considering this step, a person should consult the services of a genetic counselor before and after deciding whether to undergo testing. The counselor will discuss possible implications of the test, including employment, long-term care insurance, and future plans. A genetic counselor can be located through the National Society of Genetic Counselors (nsgc.org).


Alzheimer’s Association – Alternative Treatments

Alzheimer’s Association – Is Alzheimer’s Genetic?

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Winter Growth’s founder dreamed of creating a community where seniors and adults with disabilities could continue to learn and grow – filling their lives with joy and purpose. For over 40 years, we have fulfilled her vision by providing unique, affordable Assisted Living/Memory Care and Adult Medical Day Care tailored to our clients’ individual abilities, interests, and lives.