Once your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, some might recommend seeing a neurologist. But given the fact that dementia currently has no cure, how effective can they be?
Neurologists are on the Cutting Edge of Research
Neurologists are at the forefront of dementia research. For instance, one of their latest studies concluded that some forms of illumination therapy were able to reverse dementia progression in mice. While it isn’t yet known whether this therapy will work with humans, neurologists are aware of various research projects and might even be able to enroll your loved one in human trials.
They Can Provide a Comprehensive Evaluation
Because general practitioners lack a detailed understanding of dementia, they won’t be able to evaluate you in the same ways as a neurologist. These specialists are up to date on the latest cognitive research and will be able to perform a detailed neurological exam then provide the appropriate treatment.
They will evaluate things such as cranial nerves and will utilize questionnaires to determine their patient’s mental status. Equally important, they will test the sensory and motor system to determine how you respond to pressure, temperature, as well as the level of muscle strength and tone. They might also refer you to a geriatrician or psychologist for additional assistance.
They Know Which Medications Are Best
Since neurologists specialize in the human brain, they know which medications provide the best results and when and how to use them. For instance, many neurologists will recommend Cholinesterase inhibitors like rivastigmine, donepezil or galantamine which function by increasing chemical messenger levels that are used for judgment and memory.
While these medications are usually prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease, they can also work for various dementias such as Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia. However, there are side effects that the neurologist will discuss with you beforehand, such as sleep disturbance, fainting and a slower heart rate. Other neurologists might recommend Memantine, which functions through regulating glutamate activity, which is also a chemical messenger that plays a key role in brain function.
Neurologists Can Provide Therapy
Their expertise of the human brain and dementia means that neurologists can provide various forms of therapy to treat it. Examples of these include:
- Task simplification: With this approach tasks will be broken down into a series of simpler steps that emphasize success rather than failure. The routine and structure is also designed to alleviate confusion and frustration in dementia patients.
- Occupational therapy: This type of therapy focuses on making the home safer while developing coping behavior. Its goal is to avoid accidents like slips and falls while managing one’s demeanor.
- Environment modification: It is essential for dementia patients to live in an environment that is free of noise and clutter, that way it is easier for them to function and focus. It might even be necessary for caretakers to hide certain objects which can potentially threaten their safety, like car keys and knives, and by using monitoring systems you’ll be alerted if they decide to wander off.