Dementia can present itself very differently from one patient to the next. As Professor of Neurology Marios Politis knows from experience, symptoms that severely affect one person may be less noticeable in another. However, there are certain signs and symptoms that crop up more frequently than others. Memory loss is arguably the most commonly recognised symptom of the condition, as well as difficulty following a conversation, an inability to plan or organise effectively, and confusion about time and place.
Symptoms worsen as dementia progresses, and changes in mood and behaviour can result in increasing aggression, wandering in and out of the house and difficulty sleeping.
The embedded PDF looks at ways carers can make life more comfortable for dementia sufferers.
What Are The Treatments Available for Dementia?
There is currently no cure for dementia. Therefore, treatment aims to improve the symptoms of the disease and slow its progression. Medications can help nerve cells to communicate with each other or reduce the level of certain chemicals in the brain. Patients may also take medications to treat behavioural issues that can subsequently arise as a result of dementia.
With no cure currently available for dementia, alternative therapies such as cannabis and cannabis oil, coconut oil, massage, aromatherapy and light therapy are becoming increasingly popular alongside traditional medications. It must be stated, however, that there haven’t been enough studies to definitively prove whether these therapies play a beneficial role in treating dementia.
How Can Light Therapy Improve the Symptoms?
There are two different forms of light therapy used to reduce the impact of dementia symptoms. The first aims to stimulate electrical brain waves with pulses of light, improving memory and cognitive skills. The light pulses delivered to the brain seek to stimulate gamma brain waves, which have been proven to be lacking in dementia patients. These brain waves play a key role in boosting learning and memory.
The second exposes patients to large amounts of simulated daytime light with the aim of regulating the circadian rhythm; in essence, the biological clock that helps us to feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. Those living with dementia can often suffer from disturbed sleep as a result of disruption to their natural body clocks.
Light therapy is also used to treat depression. As dementia patients can suffer from depression alongside aggression and agitation, it has the potential to ease some of these challenging symptoms without the side-effects of antipsychotic medication.