To get a diagnosis, you will have already passed a series of assessments and tests. You will have completed a pen and paper test called the MMSE (mini mental status exam) which consists of questions and assignments to assess your memory, understanding and orientation. It is important to remember that this is not a test of your intelligence but offers an overview of how your brain works.
Your doctor may also have asked you to take an ECG (electrocardiogram) test, CT (computed tomography) scan, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan file to get more information about any changes in your heart and brain. An ECG test may be needed before starting any medication.
These tests are routine and there is nothing to worry about. Your doctor will explain what they imply before doing any tests.
Once you have been given a diagnosis of dementia, the Bromleyley Memory Service file will monitor you until you are stable with any medication that may be able to help you. They will then transfer your care to your GP who should monitor how you are doing every 6-12 months.
You may have a form of dementia for which no medications are available. In this case, your dementia specialist will talk about discharge plans and further support from relevant health and social care professionals.
At the time of this writing, there are currently no drug treatments that can cure dementia and relatively little is known about the causes of the different types of dementia and how they can be prevented. However, medical research into the treatment and cure for dementia is ongoing.
Currently, Alzheimer’s disease (including dementia mixed with Alzheimer’s disease) and Parkinson’s dementia / dementia with Lewy bodies are the only types of dementia that can be treated with drugs. These drugs do not provide a cure but they can improve some of the symptoms people are experiencing. Even with the use of drugs, all forms of dementia will progress over time.
Three anticholinesterase drugs (Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine) are available from the NHS for people in the early and moderate stages of their dementia. A fourth drug (Memantine) is available to people in the advanced stages and moderate stages if they cannot tolerate the anticholinesterase drugs.
People with vascular dementia may be prescribed medications to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure levels and also to manage diabetes if they have it, as this can help reduce the risk of having minor strokes. Eating well and exercising can also reduce the risk of further minor strokes that can cause dementia to progress.