Many people assume that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. In fact, that's not true. If your loved one is experiencing the signs of dementia, there’s hope.
At MultiCare Behavioral Health, we provide comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care for people with dementia who are experiencing mood or behavioral symptoms. Our nationally renowned experts work with families to maximize their loved one’s quality of life.
Help for Dementia at MultiCare Behavioral Health
We offer comprehensive inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for adults who are struggling with symptoms of dementia:
- Outpatient dementia care: Our Older Adult Services program specializes in helping people over age 55 work through emotional problems and behavioral disturbances. We also offer home-based services to help families create a safe living environment for their loved ones.
- Inpatient dementia care: Specializing in memory care and emotional wellness, our Geriatric Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center is the only unit of its kind in South King County.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease. Instead, it's a range of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and motor skills.
There are many types of dementia. The most common include:
- Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s happens when abnormal fatty deposits (plaques) form in the part of the brain that controls your central nervous system.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies: This condition happens when abnormal microscopic protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, build up in the brain. These deposits disrupt the brain's normal functioning, causing it to slowly deteriorate.
- Huntington’s disease: This inherited disease causes a progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain that affect movement and thinking.
- Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s occurs when nerve cells that don’t work well develop in the area of the brain that controls movement and coordination. This results in symptoms like tremors.
- Vascular dementia: Vascular dementia happens in people who experience brain injuries, such as those caused by car accidents. The location and size of the brain injury determines how your loved one’s thinking and physical functioning is affected.
What Are the Symptoms of Dementia?
The symptoms of dementia depend on the type. These symptoms may include:
- Difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events
- Difficulty communicating thoughts and needs
- Disorientation and confusion
- Behavior changes
- Difficulty with motor skills, such as swallowing and walking
Since dementia is a progressive disease, the number and severity symptoms may get worse over time.
How Do We Diagnose Dementia?
At MultiCare, we use a comprehensive approach that considers all possible causes for your loved one’s symptoms
This approach includes:
- A complete medical history
- A physical examination
- A mental health consultation to determine your loved one’s cognitive functioning
- Laboratory tests to rule out other medical conditions, such as thyroid issues and vitamin insufficiency
- Gathering information about the changes in thinking, day-to-day functioning and behavior
We can determine that a person has dementia with a high level of certainty. However, it can be difficult to determine the exact type of dementia. This is because symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap. Because of this, your loved one may need to see a neurologist or geriatric psychologist.
How Do We Treat Dementia?
There is no known cure for dementia. However, the treatments we offer can temporarily improve symptoms and help your loved one live safely and independently within their abilities.
The best treatment for your loved one’s dementia depends on its cause. Common treatments may include:
- Modifying your loved one’s environment: Reducing clutter and distracting noise make it easier for your loved one to focus and function. Occupational therapists from our Older Adult Services program provide in-home safety assessments and recommendations to make their home environment as safe as possible.
- Taking medications: Medications may help maintain your loved one’s mental functioning for a longer period of time. They can also manage mood or behavior problems, such as depression, insomnia and agitation.
- Inpatient monitoring: Sometimes it may be necessary to monitor your loved one’s response to medications in an inpatient setting. Learn more about our Geriatric Inpatient Psychiatry Unit.
- Modifying tasks: Breaking tasks into easier steps and focusing on success can help your loved one maintain his or her independence.
- Keeping your loved one active: Mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles and word games, physical activity and social interaction may help reduce the severity of dementia symptoms.
Note: The condition description on this page is intended to be informational only, and should not be considered a diagnosis or medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional if you believe you have any of the symptoms described here.