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How is dementia in the elderly treated?

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Quick Answer

Dementia in the elderly can be treated with medication or palliative care, depending on whether the dementia can be reversed, according to WebMD. Most dementia cannot be reversed, and those patients typically receive care designed to improve quality of life.

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Sometimes a patient has a health condition that causes or exacerbates dementia, WebMD reports. Infections, thyroid disease, a vitamin deficiency, depression or brain tumors can cause dementia. Once these conditions are treated, the dementia symptoms go away.

Patients with dementia that cannot be reversed usually receive palliative care, states WebMD. This type of care is designed for patients with serious medical conditions and focuses on quality of life rather than curing the disease. Palliative care is often a holistic approach, incorporating care for the mind and spirit as well as medical treatment.

Some palliative care treatment may include counseling to manage emotions, especially in the early stages of dementia, WebMD says. Patients also receive tips to help them live independently as long as possible. Sometimes physicians prescribe medications to help manage mood, mental function or behavior.

Loved ones are critical to patients with dementia, WebMD explains. The patient's medical team often informs caretakers about what to expect and how to manage care.

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