Treating Memory Disorders

The best treatment for memory disorders is prevention, and there are several measures you can take, including the following:

• Protect your head. A significant blow to the head can cause memory impairment and increase the risk of future dementia. Wear a seat belt when in a motor vehicle to guard against a head injury from a traffic accident. Wear a helmet when bike riding, skiing, or in-line skating. Use a protective mouth guard and appropriate head gear when playing contact sports.

• Protect your blood vessels. A blockage in a blood vessel to the brain can cause a stroke, which can lead to dementia. Reduce your risk of stroke by exercising regularly, maintaining a normal weight, and not smoking.

• Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These problems can also lead to stroke. Treating them with medications or behavioral strategies (such as exercise and a healthy diet) can help guard against stroke and, therefore, dementia.

Though we do not currently have definitive treatments for mild cognitive impairment and most forms of dementia, several drugs are available that can diminish the symptoms for a period of time. I discuss these medications, as well as new drugs under study, in the next chapter.


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