Dementia places a great burden on patients and their families and the challenges vary considerably over the course of the illness. We describe 14 practical points to guide management.
- When a patient is diagnosed with dementia, implement a detailed care plan as soon as possible and follow up regularly.
- Encourage patients and their families to address issues relating to work, driving, finances and legal responsibilities.
- Ensure the patient’s environment is dementia-friendly.
- For patients with Alzheimer’s disease, consider prescribing specific medication when appropriate.
- Manage neuropsychiatric symptoms and comorbidities with nonpharmacological approaches whenever possible. When psychotropic treatments are considered necessary, minimise dose and duration and evaluate regularly for benefits and side effects.
- Ensure patients and carers have appropriate assistance and support, including community, respite and residential care.
- Monitor carers’ ability to cope and level of distress; refer if indicated.