Dementia is a condition associated with memory decline and accounts for a high percentage of disability among the elderly. Dementia is a chronic disease that places social burden on the patient based on its natural progression and the lack of treatment that could reverse it. The focus of treating dementia is based on slowing down the progression of symptoms. The most common form of dementia seen among most elderly patients is Alzheimer’s disease that presents as loss of episodic memory in its initial stages and progresses to a wider disruption of the individual’s ability to reason, think, communicate, and perform their daily tasks. There is a need to provide social support to patients with dementia.
The most significant care approach to offer patients with dementia is ensuring they adhere to their medication. People living with dementia are commonly prescribed complex medicine regimens that contain psychotropic medication. They are also treated with antipsychotic medication to prevent changes in behavior and psychological symptoms that could be associated with the progression of their disease. Issues related to poor adherence to treatment could contribute to increased severity of the disease. Other factors such as multimorbidity and general body weakness could increase the risk of adverse drug interactions. The need to evaluate the risk of drug interactions especially due to polypharmacy should also be considered (Fox, et al., 2013; Alomar, 2014). Older people usually have underlying illnesses that places them at risk for drug-drug interaction, which could lead to adverse effects. Evaluating the drugs prescribed by the physician can reduce the risk of drug interactions and their effects.
Family members and other caregivers who might be living with the patient play a significant role in managing the symptoms experienced by the individual through reassurance, constantly reminding them of the things they forget, and ensuring they adhere to their medication. People living with dementia rely upon their caregivers to support them in their daily tasks such as getting dressed, feeding, cleaning, and helping them to make sense of their surrounding environment (Fox, et al., 2013). Psychotropic medication such as antidepressants and antipsychotics are commonly associated with falls (Johnell, et al., 2017). Helping these individuals with their daily tasks reduces the risks of falls.
Aside from the use of medication, providing the patient with emotional support can also decrease theory risks of developing depressive symptoms and slow down the progress of dementia. Caring and supporting the patient, helping them to learn the skills that they might have forgotten or new skills can reduce their likelihood of focusing on their illness. The family member or caregiver should expose the individual to support groups that cater to the needs of people living with dementia. These interventions commonly offer non-pharmacological approaches like taking them to view art, visiting museums, and storytelling. Music intervention such as singing and playing their favorite songs can help them remember past events that were relevant to their lives (Brooke, 2016; Pedersen, Andersen, Lugo, Andreassen, & Sutterlin, 2017). Music has also been proven to improve mood, evoke unprompted singing, and reduce symptoms of depression, restlessness, and aggressiveness.
Provision of both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions is likely to reduce the progression of dementia symptoms and help the patient cope with the complications related to the disease. The development of dementia affects every aspect of a patient’s life and that of their family members or caregivers. Access to support groups can help the patient understand that the disease also affects other people and help them manage their symptoms.
Alomar, M. J. (2014). Factors Affecting the Development of Adverse Drug Interactions (Review Article). Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 22(2), 83-94. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3950535/.
Brooke, J. (2016, March 31). Caring for Patients with Dementia. Retrieved from Nursing in Practice: https://www.nursinginpractice.com/article/caring-patients-dementia
Fox, C., Maidment, I., Moniz-Cook, E., White, J., Thyrian, J. R., Young, J., . . . Chew-Graham, C. A. (2013). Optimising Primary Care for People with Dementia. Mental Health in Family Medicine, 10(3), 143-151. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3822661/.
Johnell, K., Bergman, G. J., Fastbom, J., Danielsson, B., Borg, N., & Salmi, P. (2017). Psychotropic Drugs and the Risk of Fall Injuries, Hospitalisations and Mortality among Older Adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 32(4), 414-420. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347947/.
Pedersen, S. K., Andersen, P. N., Lugo, R. G., Andreassen, M., & Sutterlin, S. (2017). Effects of Music on Agitation in Dementia: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. 742. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432607/.