Managing the Progression of Dementia

Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist, discusses how to manage and prevent the symptoms of dementia.

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Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist, discusses how to manage and prevent the symptoms of dementia.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Dean Foti, MD, FRCPC, Behavioural Neurologist

Video Title: Managing the Progression of Dementia

Duration: 2 minutes, 30 seconds

Unfortunately dementia is a frightening word for families as is Alzheimer’s disease because it does carry with it the image of a progressive condition, which it is.

It does progress over typically about 10 to 15 years. Usually it’s slow and gradual and early on people can function quite well, they can travel, they can visit with family, they can engage in a number of hobbies and interests. So there are a lot of things you can still do even with a dementia.

We do have some things to try to treat dementia and using those strategies we can try and improve somebody’s quality of life. The treatment for dementia is mostly based on treating symptoms so if somebody has low mood or depression then you may treat depression, if there’s other types of behavioural problems you may try to treat those problems as well.

We don’t really understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. We think that it has to do with these amyloid plaques that deposit in the brain, or these tangles that show up in the brain but we’re not sure if they’re the thing that starts the process or just a marker as it goes along.

So we do know a lot more about Alzheimer’s than we did 10 years ago but we’re still struggling to figure out what is the real process that starts this thing and how can we stop it.

But one of the core treatments we have for Alzheimer’s disease is to use medications early on that keep people functioning at a higher level for longer. These treatments, particularly medications, called cholinesterase inhibitors, they’re medicines that boost the level of a chemical that’s low in the brain in Alzheimer’s.

These  treatments do make an impact on people’s prognosis. So you may see that they may stay functioning in the community for longer, they may have less behavioural problems that develop as the disease goes on and they may even find that they are more interested or attentive to things.

It rarely improves their memory, so I tell my families, don’t expect the memory to get better, it will get worse, but we’re hoping that the function stays better for longer. So these are important treatments that are meaningful and that’s one of the reasons that we encourage people to seek care with their family doctors early, because getting onto a treatment early keeps you functioning at a better level for longer.

Video filmed in conjunction with Dr Dean Foti and Healthchoicesfirst

Presenter: Dr. Dean Foti, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

Video Quiz ( 51 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Medicationscalled Cholinesterase Inhibitors may be recommended in patients diagnosed with dementia in order to maintain ahigh level of functioning.


Managementof dementia involves treating the symptoms, for example a low mood ordepression may be treated with anti-depressants. 


Cholinesteraseinhibitors do not improve a patients short term memory but will help patients maintain ahigher level of functioning overall.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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