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Feature Article

Dementia: 14 essentials of management

Henry Brodaty, Michael Connors, Dimity Pond, Anne Cumming, Helen M Creasey

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Abstract

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.

Key Points

  • 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.

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