People Live with Dementia for Years, Medications Offer Little Relief

Life expectancy for a person with dementia can vary considerably based on type of dementia, age, and other health conditions. On average, a person lives 4-10 years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years.

Many families turn to medications to help with challenging symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of drugs specifically to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias:

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Memantine

Unfortunately, these drugs can't cure or stop the progression of the disease, and efficacy varies from person to person. The greatest effect seems to be appreciated in the first few months of therapy, and there is no clinical evidence that these drugs work beyond one year.

Most people with dementia live for years, while the effects of medication to relieve symptoms only last months.

Most people with dementia live for years, while the effects of medication to relieve symptoms only last months.

There are currently no FDA approved drugs to treat difficult behaviors, such as agitation, aggressive behavior, delusions, or restlessness. However, it is common for medications - mainly antipsychotics - to be prescribed off-label to manage behaviors. These drugs have significant side effects and are often prescribed in excessive doses. Almost universally, dementia care experts recommend non-drug approaches, such as socialization and music, as the best option for coping with challenging behaviors.

 Reminiscing, Music Improves Quality of Life

Despite the lack of compelling drugs for dementia, there is one form of treatment that has proven effective and safe - personalized reminiscing. Reminiscence therapy for dementia care involves recalling past events, encouraging socialization, and engaging a person with familiar images, videos, music, scents, and foods.

One form of reminiscence therapy - personalized music - has proved especially effective.  Countless studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of individualized music for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, including:

  • Improved communication and attention
  • Improved physical functioning
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Decreased agitation and aggressive behaviors
  • Decreased admissions to acute care in hospital, psychiatric ER
  • Decreased use of psychotropic drugs
  • Improved caregiver confidence

Another major benefit is that there are no negative side effects associated with the use of personalized music as a therapeutic tool.

How we help?

Our team develops customized engagement programs by leveraging affordable technologies for reminiscing and music.

Dementia Care Trends