First step in dementia care is to treat for depression

Lisa Wurth

May 12, 2011

Dementia is a disease which is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and many families may take sudden changes in behavior as signs that a loved one is suffering from the condition. However, it's important to keep in mind that there are many other causes that may not be as final as Alzheimer's disease or something similar. 

In fact, Dr. Keith Ablow recently wrote on that he believes around 1 million Americans who have been diagnosed with dementia are actually suffering from major depression, which has symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, violent behavior and irritability.

He recommends trying to treat a senior with antidepressants before moving to more drastic measures. Additionally, families may want to try using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which he claims can be used against depression.

Older adults may also benefit from the installation of a senior alert system at home. This device enables users to immediately send a medical alert to call centers if they require assistance.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.4 million Americans currently suffer from the condition and 14.9 million caregivers are taking care of them.