Q: My mum has been diagnosed with dementia. Is this illness curable or can it at least be managed with medication?

A: The only way to get a useful answer would be by means of a proper, direct assessment. This assessment could confirm if your mother does in fact have dementia. If possible, it could also clarify what the cause might be (this isn’t always clear, unfortunately).

Some forms of dementia can be related to other physical illnesses that can be effectively treated (e.g. some forms of thyroid disease). This will reduce or remove the apparent dementia. At times, vitamin deficiencies can also disturb a person’s mental state. Once again, this can be remedied.

With some forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, certain drugs may slow down the disease and make the situation more manageable. Unfortunately, they’re not a cure. Other drugs may make the person less suspicious and agitated, which can be useful. However, some of these drugs have become controversial as some research studies show they might increase the risk of stroke in elderly people. The potential benefits and risks should be weighed up against each other with the help of a healthcare practitioner.

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