Dementia symptoms strike almost immediate fear in patients and their caregivers alike. But not all dementia symptoms are incurable. Here are some practical steps to take when the symptoms appear before you or the patient pursue a course of action.
The first step is a review of all medications which the patient is taking because many medications have unpleasant mental side effects. This is a real possibility in older persons especially if they are taking multiple medications. You should consult not only the patient’s primary physician but also a psychiatrist or neurologist along with a pharmacist who has particular expertise in determining the mental side effects of medications.
A thorough mental examination may reveal that the patient is suffering from depression which may cause confusion and memory problems. Often, an antidepressant may bring the patient relief, but several of these types of drugs may have to be prescribed before it is known which drug works best for the patient with minimal side effects. Psychological counseling may also be an avenue to explore.
Another question to ask is whether the patient is suffering from an infection which can affect an older person’s mental clarity. A good step to take is to have the patient undergo a complete physical and mental examination by a primary care physician as well as a neurologist. The examination should reveal whether the patient is suffering from an infection or some other medical condition which could cause dementia symptoms.
Before the patient undergoes a physical and mental examination, the physician should be asked whether the patient has a vitamin deficiency, especially a vitamin B deficiency which can cause dementia like symptoms. Further, the physician should be told if the patient has been drinking a lot of alcohol or using prescription or illegal drugs.
Also, a thorough medical examination may reveal that the dementia symptoms are the result of spinal fluid building up in the brain causing swelling and pressure which could not only provoke the symptoms but also damage the brain. A surgeon may be able to drain the fluid, and in many cases, this procedure restores normal mental functioning.
Additionally, the physician conducting the medical examination should be asked to conduct a thyroid test, especially if the physician seems to have difficulty determining the source of the dementia symptoms. If the thyroid gland is not functioning normally, it may cause a person to feel sluggish, confused and exhausted. In some cases, a thyroid issue develops slowly which makes it difficult to know when the problems began. So, the thyroid test may uncover the source of the dementia symptoms.
As you can see, a number of health issues may cause dementia symptoms which can be treated effectively. Even if the patient does not have curable dementia symptoms, a visit to a doctor may be beneficial. An early dementia diagnosis may give the patient time to plan and possibly have a longer period of quality life.