Not yet, though research continues in some promising avenues. However, there are some things you can do to slow its progression.
Dementia is a degenerative condition that affects over 55 million people around the world. The condition causes progressive brain damage that affects memory, communication, personality, mood, self-control, and more.
In recent years, improvements have been made in dementia treatment. Today, treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease and that can temporarily manage symptoms are available.
There’s still no cure for dementia, but research into new treatments and a possible cure is underway. Depending on the type of dementia, it’s sometimes possible to slow progression.
Dementia is a degenerative condition, and there’s currently no cure.
However, medical research into dementia has expanded our understanding of the condition in recent years. Scientists have helped to differentiate many types of dementia. Since they all have different causes, treatments that are still developing might be directed to a specific type, rather than a one-size-fits-all style treatment.
For instance, when immunotherapy is used to treat cancer, it targets cancer cells and destroys them or stops them from reproducing. Research is being conducted to see whether immunotherapy could be used in a similar way to target the proteins that build up and cause the destruction of brain cells in people who have dementia.
Other possible future treatments include:
- stem cell-based treatments that could rebuild brain cells
- gene-based therapies that would target genetic causes of dementia
- gene-based therapies that would reduce the number of potentially damaging proteins produced in the brain
None of these treatments are currently available, and it’s too early to say whether any of them will cure dementia. Right now, medications can help reduce symptoms, slow down disease progression, and improve your quality of life. Sedatives can reduce agitation, and anti-nausea medications can improve appetite.
In the future, treatments might be able to stop disease progression or even cure dementia.
Want to get involved?
If you have dementia (or a history of it in your family) and want to get involved in the latest clinical research on dementia treatments, check out ClinicalTrials.gov.
Make sure to discuss joining any trial with your primary care doctor, especially if it will involve any changes to your current treatment regimen.
There have been many advancements in dementia treatment in recent years. Medications can help manage symptoms and slow disease progression, especially in the early stages of dementia. Currently, the preferred medications to treat dementia include:
- Anti-amyloid treatments: These treatments are given by IV infusion to slow down the progression of dementia.
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: These medications include Aricept, Exelon, and Reminyl. They help nerve cells in the brain communicate.
- Memantine: Memantine blocks a chemical in the brain that worsens dementia. This medication is prescribed for people with moderate-to-severe dementia.
- Off-label treatments: Some medications currently used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis, can be repurposed to manage the risk factors of dementia.
There’s no way to stop most types dementia from progressing. However, you might be able to slow it down. Treatments can help.
You can also follow lifestyle steps, such as:
- Eating a nutritious diet: The foods you eat can affect the health of your brain. Plus, following a balanced diet lowers your risk of complications from other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Following an exercise routine: Just like following a balanced diet, staying active is good for your brain. Exercise increases the blood and oxygen in your brain, and that can help maintain brain connections.
- Getting plenty of sleep: Getting adequate sleep is important to your health in many ways. One of the ways is allowing your brain to rest and reset, which lowers your dementia risk.
- Maintaining social connections: Socialization and community can help slow down memory decline.
- Keeping your brain busy: Mentally stimulating activities, such as playing instruments, reading, learning new skills, or playing games, are good for your brain health.
Can dementia be prevented?
There’s no way to prevent dementia. However, you can lower your risk of developing it.
Although some risk factors are things you can’t change, such as your family history, there are some risk factors you manage. Addressing these risk factors could lower your risk of dementia.
Steps to take include:
- staying physically active
- not smoking
- maintaining a moderate weight
- eating a nutritious diet
- taking care of your mental health
- drinking only a moderate amount of alcohol, if you drink at all
There’s currently no cure for dementia. Most types of dementia are degenerative and will worsen with time.
Current medications can treat symptoms and may sometimes slow down the progression, but they can’t stop or reverse the effects.
Research is underway to find new treatments and a potential cure for dementia. In the future, doctors might be able to use advancements in stem-cell therapies, gene-based therapies, or immunotherapies to better treat or even cure dementia.
For now, treatments may slow brain degeneration for some people who have dementia. Steps such as staying active and maintaining social connections are also great ways to prevent strokes and other health problems that can worsen the effects of dementia.