Mixed dementia is a combination of different types of dementia. Also known as multifactorial dementia, it’s often characterized by the same types of abnormal protein deposits associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association also cites research suggesting mixed dementia could be more common than previously thought. If this is something that may be affecting your senior loved one, here are four things you need to know about mixed dementia.
1. Misdiagnosis Is CommonSymptoms associated with mixed dementia can vary based on which areas of the brain are affected. It’s fairly common for this condition to be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s or another specific type of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia. For this reason, mixed dementia is likely to be suspected only if symptoms don’t fully fit in with what’s commonly seen with one particular type of dementia. Also, the only way to positively diagnose mixed dementia is through post-death testing, so you may never know your loved one has mixed dementia unless the doctor suspects it based on symptoms. If your loved one is living with cognitive impairment resulting from dementia, help is just a phone call away. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Ft. Lauderdale Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
2. Treatment Is Often Based on the Type of Dementia DiagnosedThere are currently no drugs specifically approved to treat mixed dementia. However, FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s disease may be prescribed if it’s assumed your loved one has AD based on the symptoms presented. It’s possible for one of the types of dementia in your loved one’s “mix” to be Alzheimer’s, so you may notice a decrease in symptoms if Alzheimer’s medications are recommended. In fact, a National Institutes of Health study suggests many people with AD do have other forms of dementia as well.
3. Certain Therapies May HelpIf your loved one has been officially diagnosed with mixed dementia because the symptoms don’t fit in with any specific type of dementia, he or she may benefit from certain therapies. The Alzheimer’s Society suggests considering the following supportive therapies for a loved one with mixed dementia:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Also called “talk therapy,” CBT involves interactions with a therapist to change thinking patterns and develop a better mental focus.
- Reminiscence therapy (RT) – This type of therapy uses the senses to trigger memories and enhance recollection in a way that may minimize memory loss.
- Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) – This technique is more likely to benefit seniors with mild to moderate dementia. It works by having one-on-one or small group conversations about current events or past experiences.
4. It’s Best to Focus on the Type of Care Immediately NeededBecause mixed dementia can produce an assortment of symptoms, you’re not likely to know what to expect as further changes to the brain occur. Instead, get into the habit of focusing on the type of care your loved one needs at the moment. Doing so might involve:
- Lending a hand with daily routines
- Creating a safe, comfortable home environment
- Providing transportation
- Keeping track of symptom changes so adjustments to your loved one’s care plan can be made