Psychiatry News and Blog

Dementia Expert Updates Info Regarding Care and Treatment :

Weatherly Inn, Covington. Dementia expert, Dr. Douglas P. Wornell, shared among community members valuable information about dementia which include defining the disease, addressing diagnosis of the disease and updates regarding new care and treatment for dementia.

Dr. Wornell emphasized that dementia is non-reversible. According to him, it is a neurological disease that goes on and on. Lots of dementias eventually fall into the Alzheimer's category. Age is simply the number one risk factor for Alzheimer's. And, by age 90 to 100, everyone will have dementia as the brain shrinks as we age.

Medicare typically pays for an MRI brain scan, which can determine brain loss, among elders at age 71. The thing is, oftentimes the disease is not diagnosed early on and simply gets worst as an individual gets older. The effects of Alzheimer's usually takes a long time before others can recognize them.

Short-term memory loss usually marks the first stage of Alzheimer's and it's a scary experience. The patient becomes silent and experience social anxiety as he or she becomes uncomfortable in not knowing names. The patient also gets lost and driving routine seems different. The patient may also struggle tracking checkbooks.

The next stage, called Middle Stage then takes place over ten years after the disease has started. By this time, the patient starts to lose their Activities of Daily Living or ADL such as toileting and safe cooking. The symptoms of aggression occur over 20 years into the disease, where patients often manifest psychosis symptoms such as thinking the soup is poisoned, misunderstanding family positions and forgetting names of family members.

The third stage or the Last Stage of Alzheimer's comes in third in fatal neurological disease. The brain can no loner signal the patient to swallow or walk. Hence, other medical issues arise such as injuries from falling, pneumonia from choking and failure to eat at all. Dr. Wornell said that the patient don't die because they stop eating, rather they stop eating because they're dying. And, this is a major issue to consider when tube feeding is suggested.

The risk factors for Alzheimer's include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Dr. Wornell suggests early lifestyle changes – a Mediterranean diet, eating lots of fish, low dose aspirin, exercise and meditation. Patients with dementia should avoid anti-psychotic and anxiety medications. The doctor supports use of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.

With regards to being an effective caregiver, Dr. Wornell suggests two easy workable techniques – validation and redirection.

When asked by an audience to comment on the medicinal effects with THC or marijuana and dementia, Dr. Wornell sated that he is all for it. It has medicinal effects for Parkinson's and is a good alternative for mood impairments, he added.

Overall, it is unfortunate that dementia has severe impacts to families. Nobody would want to live with it or witness a family member living with the disease. And no patient would want to die leaving his or her family with the difficult memory of the disease. Hospitals, doctors, and some families are too close to euthanasia to suggest termination from suffering more from the disease.

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