How to treat dementia in the elderly

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How to treat dementia in the elderly
How to treat dementia in the elderly

The main etiological factors in the development of dementia in the elderly. Symptoms of the disease and the main directions in the treatment of this disease. Predictions and prevention of dementia in old age. Senile dementia is a nonspecific disease that combines all the organic pathology of the brain that occurs in people after 65 years of age and is manifested by a disorder of cognitive functions. First of all, changes in memory, thinking, learning, simple skills are taken into account.

Description of senile dementia

Dementia as age-related dementia
Dementia as age-related dementia

In dementia, the age factor acts as the main one, which causes a destructive effect on brain function. That is, the diseases are combined according to the principle of the period when they arose. In this case, the etiology may differ slightly, and the symptoms may be completely different. Naturally, there is a basic psychoorganic structure of dementia, which, in fact, unites all the symptoms.

People with senile dementia experience a significant defect in intellectual functioning, which creates difficulties in everyday life and interferes with performing elementary tasks. In addition, the structure of the personality changes, such inclinations arise that were not characteristic during life. In some cases, productive psychotic symptoms may even develop.

The statistics for dementia in the elderly are disappointing. More than 7 million inhabitants of the planet every year fix this disease in themselves. The problem is also that senile dementia progresses, gradually embracing new functions of the human psyche, affecting the emotional and other spheres.

Causes of dementia in the elderly

Head injury as a cause of dementia
Head injury as a cause of dementia

Numerous studies that are ongoing to this day have not unequivocally identified one factor in the disease. Senile dementia occurs due to various reasons, which may differ in each individual person. It is customary to divide them into groups that are united by a common mechanism of occurrence:

  • Primary hypoxia … In old age, the quality of perfusion of gases through the cell membrane, including oxygen, gradually decreases. Chronic underutilization of this vital element is accompanied by various hypoxic phenomena. Lack of oxygen over time disrupts the functioning of neurons and is accompanied by various symptoms that indicate this. That is, normally neurons provide the thought process, memory, and are responsible for skills and basic knowledge. If they receive the necessary substances in insufficient quantities, over time they will cease to perform their function and atrophy.
  • Protein deposition … Senile plaques are the main cause of Alzheimer's disease, which is also part of a group of diseases called senile dementia. These specific conglomerates of protein are deposited in the brain, interfering with the passage of impulses and the normal functioning of neural networks. In addition, over time, atrophied neurons tend to clump together and create so-called neurofibrillary tangles. These compounds can also disrupt the function of the brain, worsening the symptoms of senile dementia.
  • Genetics … Scientists have recently identified genes for the development of dementia. They are inherited and may appear depending on conditions. The presence of such a gene does not mean 100% chance of developing senile dementia. It is rather a more pronounced propensity compared to population indicators. It is possible that the presence of the gene will not cause any symptoms at all.
  • Trauma … If a person has a history of significant traumatic head injuries, it is likely that it will affect at an older age. That is why athletes, boxers or other people, whose occupation is associated with receiving blows to the head, often and early suffer from senile dementia. The likelihood of developing dementia in old age can vary, depending on the severity of the injury and the degree of structural damage.
  • Infection … Some pathogens that can infect brain tissue can cause significant structural changes. Most often, neuronal atrophy and a gradual loss of functions for which they were responsible develops. For example, memory, writing, reading, etc. An example of such a disease is syphilis. Topographic lesion in any brain infection is classified according to the localization of the process. For example, meningitis, meningoencephalitis, encephalitis.
  • Drug addiction … Alcohol or drug abuse can also cause brain damage with various symptoms. Over time, a deep personality defect forms, against the background of which senile dementia develops more favorably. In addition, in the late stages of alcoholism and drug addiction, structural changes in the brain tissue can develop, which cause a decrease in the number of functioning neurons and disrupt the quality of human cognitive operations.

Important! Very rarely, dementia in the elderly is caused by one single factor. Most often, this is a combination of several causes, which together can form the symptoms of the disease.

The main signs of senile dementia in humans

Memory loss as a sign of dementia
Memory loss as a sign of dementia

All symptoms of the disease begin gradually and imperceptibly both for the person himself and for his loved ones. Minor difficulties in performing precisely coordinated manipulations, forgetfulness is interpreted as a common state that is not given due attention. Therefore, the treatment of such patients begins much later than necessary to obtain a good result. Symptoms are usually distributed depending on the scope of the human psyche. Consider the following symptoms of dementia in older people:

  1. Loss of skills … The person experiences difficulties in performing ordinary routine tasks. Buttoning takes more time, the handwriting becomes clumsy, and then completely unreadable. People with dementia may learn to do basic things, such as brushing their teeth, flushing the toilet, or adjusting the shower water to a comfortable temperature. These skills are always honed to the subconscious, and a person does not think about it every time. When dementia develops, this data is gradually erased, and the ability to learn again during this time significantly decreases. In the later stages, difficulties are noted even when eating with a spoon or fork.
  2. Loss of analytical skills … Also, for a long time, it is invisible to both humans and others. Everything is attributed to everyday mistakes or inattention. A person loses the ability to compare the qualities of two objects or options, to highlight the main thing in a conversation. It becomes more difficult to find differences and similarities between the two samples. For example, a person can eat cucumber and strawberries together, without thinking that one is sweet and the other is not. He stops comparing, analyzing, and descends to a simple mechanism for satisfying the most essential needs. One of the rules of psychiatry states that the regression of such abilities is carried out in the reverse order, as they were achieved. As a result, an elderly person begins to think like a small child that learns the world.
  3. Emotional sphere … There are also a number of changes that accompany senile dementia. First of all, it should be pointed out that more than a third of all patients with dementia also suffer from depression. The hopelessness of their illness, the feeling of uselessness and loneliness significantly underestimates self-esteem and levels the feeling of self-esteem. Therefore, a person may be prone to excessive sensitivity, vulnerability, easily notices offenses. There is also a constant fear of being left alone, unnecessary in such a helpless state.
  4. Memory … The decrease in mnestic functions occurs gradually. At first, a person may notice some kind of forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, difficulty in remembering the usual details of the situation. Then, the working information is erased, which performs the operational function. That is, a task is formulated, a sequence of actions is formed, and a person cannot mark already completed stages during its implementation. It is difficult to calculate what he has already done, and what only needs to be done. Later mnestic symptoms are the erasure of the names and faces of familiar people from the memory of a person, forgetting their address, the location of the room. People can replace periodic blackouts with fictional or old memories, confuse them in time and date. For example, talk about events 10 years ago as if they happened yesterday.
  5. Psychotic symptoms … It is extremely rare, but it is still possible that there are signs of hallucinations and delusional ideas in the clinic of dementia in the elderly. They occur in the later stages of the disease. People can behave aggressively under the influence of such experiences, feel constant anxiety and fear, strongly worry about something or someone. Hallucinatory experiences and delusions can be accompanied by vagrancy. A person has an irresistible desire to leave home, while he is unable to remember and find the way back. Psychotic symptoms can disrupt sleep and appetite, form various ultimatums that older people adhere to. For example, they put a mug exclusively in one place and categorically do not want to be rearranged.

Types of dementia in the elderly

Alzheimer's disease as a type of dementia
Alzheimer's disease as a type of dementia

Senile dementia is a collective term that includes several diseases that can cause similar symptoms. Most pathologies that entail organic damage to brain tissue can cause dementia in the elderly, but three of them prevail in frequency:

  • Alzheimer's disease … It is the most common variant of senile dementia. It is caused by the deposition of senile plaques inside the brain, which can disrupt its function. Symptoms develop gradually from minor memory disorders and changes in personality structure to a complete loss of control over their body. The hallmark is the relentless progression of the disease. Life expectancy for people with this type of dementia does not exceed 10 years after diagnosis.
  • Vascular dementia … It occurs due to the gradual deposition of atherosclerotic cholesterol plaques inside the vessels of the brain. Narrowing of the lumen leads to an increase in intracranial pressure and a decrease in cerebral blood flow. The cells feel a constant lack of oxygen and atrophy over time. It is possible to develop a complete violation of blood flow in a specific area. Such cases are diagnosed as a stroke condition. Symptoms result from progressive memory loss, personality changes, mood changes, and cognitive decline.
  • Parkinson's disease … It can also cause the formation of senile dementia. Lack of dopamine in the structure of the brain is accompanied by various disorders of thinking, memory, counting, understanding, orientation in space. Changes in the emotional background are also characteristic. Often people with Parkinson's are prone to depression, or vice versa, they are euphoric. At the same time, the risk of suicidal behavior increases, which is formed more due to one's own helplessness than depression.

Features of the treatment of senile dementia

Therapy of this disease is possible only with an integrated approach and is carried out throughout life. That is, a short course of drugs will not give the desired effect and the symptoms will return as soon as the drugs are excreted from the body. Treatment of dementia in the elderly is possible both on an outpatient basis and in a hospital in short courses. The appointment of potent drugs should be carried out by the attending physician who is familiar with the features of the course of the disease. Therapy includes several basic approaches.

Home treatment rules

Exercise for dementia
Exercise for dementia

Before you start taking a whole bunch of different medicines, you should try simple alternative methods, which are much more affordable and do not cause side effects. In addition, it is recommended to combine such treatment with pharmacological drugs.

Dementia treatment guidelines:

  1. Mode … You should try to normalize your periods of sleep and wakefulness. In old age, it is better not to overwork. Divide the daily food intake by 5 times. Traditional dishes should be supplemented with fish rich in nutrients for the brain. It is also recommended to eat tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, nuts, dairy products.
  2. Workout … With age, it is necessary to train not only your muscles, but also your mind. Memorizing poems, short excerpts from books every day will help keep your mind clean and bright for many years. With the development of modern technologies, special programs have appeared that require passing memory tests. A person needs to complete tasks in turn, memorizing the location of objects, sequence, colors and other elements. Crosswords, puzzles and other charades will be effective, where you need to apply logic, knowledge and ingenuity.
  3. Exercises … Among physical exercises, yoga is the most commonly recommended. This teaching helps a person to cope with his own body, to learn to control thoughts and desires. In addition, with the help of yoga, harmony with the inner "I" is achieved, which increases the chances of the effectiveness of treatment for senile dementia.

Drug therapy

Medication for dementia
Medication for dementia

It is prescribed exclusively by the attending physician according to the symptoms of the disease. Pharmacological therapy is designed to eliminate or reduce the signs of dementia and improve the quality of life for patients.

Types of drugs:

  • Sedatives … Appointed in case of active excitement, aggression, inability to sleep. Can be used for vagrancy. It is necessary to control the pressure. In older people, sedatives can cause hypotension.
  • Antipsychotics … Antipsychotics are prescribed for symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. Often, it is with the help of neuroleptics that it is possible to sedate a person who is in psychotic arousal. The duration and dosage of admission, as well as the choice of a specific representative, must be taken into account when prescribing several drugs at the same time.
  • Antidepressants … They are rarely prescribed, but they are still used to eliminate severe depressive phenomena in the clinic of the disease. They also have a number of side effects that must be taken into account when combining several funds from different groups.
  • Nootropics … This is a group of drugs for dementia in the elderly that are used to improve the cognitive performance of the brain. They are used on an ongoing basis. Their action is aimed at restoring the lost functions of the psyche and protecting those that have not yet been affected by the disease.


Psychotherapy as a treatment for dementia
Psychotherapy as a treatment for dementia

Plays a critical role in the socialization and rehabilitation of a person. Dementia makes it impossible for him to do any work and requires outside help. In this state, people feel more of a burden than sick.

Psychosocial support in the form of sessions with a psychologist will help you gain self-confidence. Over time, a firm attitude towards a quality life will appear. In any case, it is necessary that the person does not get hung up on the progression of his symptoms, but enjoy what he can still do. For this, various methods are used: music therapy, art therapy. Patients are advised to acquire pets. It will be useful to watch an archived family video so that a person tries to realize his own significance and importance in the life of relatives and friends.

Prevention of dementia in the elderly

Reading books as prevention of dementia
Reading books as prevention of dementia

It is most likely impossible to predict the disease. In some cases, even with the right lifestyle, senile dementia developed similarly to advanced cases. Studies have shown that highly educated people are much less likely to experience this disease or symptoms are less pronounced. This is due to the large number of neural connections in a lifetime. Each time a person learns something, masters a skill, a new connection is formed in the brain, which can duplicate others. The more of these interneuronal contacts, the longer dementia will develop.

As a prophylaxis for dementia in the elderly, one can advise: memory training, reading books, reciting poetry, solving a variety of crosswords. Your mind must be constantly loaded with work so as not to reduce the number of neural connections. In addition, you need to adhere to an active way of life, eat foods rich in B vitamins, amino acids, proteins.

How to treat senile dementia - watch the video:

If you have symptoms of dementia, you should definitely see a doctor. Only a specialist knows how to treat dementia in the elderly correctly. Many of the nuances associated with the presence of concomitant pathology for people aged 65 and over must be considered when choosing a specific drug and treatment method.

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