Dementia is a progressive, and persistent loss of intellectual functioning which impairs memory,
language, abstract thinking, and problem-solving skills. While dementia predominantly affects older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. It is a disease process that can have various causes. Symptoms of dementia vary from person to person and stage of disease, but usually includes personality or behavioral changes, memory loss, changes in mood, and difficulty finding words to communicate.
Dementia is a pathological condition caused by damage to nerve cells or blood vessels, or degradation of connections in the brain. A disease, stroke, alcohol abuse, concussion, or repeated head injury can also bring on the onset of dementia. Dementia affects people differently depending on the location of the damaged area in the brain.
As dementia progresses, patients can develop agitation. Agitation involves a range of behaviors to include restlessness, pacing, shouting, and aggression. The causes of agitation are numerous. Noise, or unfamiliar surroundings, situations or people can trigger agitation. Changes in routine or environment can increase confusion and lead to agitation. As patient struggle to communicate, they may exhibit signs of frustration and agitation. Agitation can also be a sign of pain or physical discomfort. Patients with dementia often experience depression and anxiety. As anxiety increases, agitation will also increase.
Treating agitation involves addressing the underlying cause of agitation.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help Patients with Agitation of Dementia?
Marijuana has been shown to help patients suffering with dementia. The cannabinoids in marijuana have been shown to have a neuroprotective effect. Both THC and CBD have been safely utilized and well tolerated in elderly patients with dementia associated agitation. Marijuana has also been shown to positively affect the anxiety and depression that may accompany the diagnosis of dementia. Marijuana also carries fewer side effects than many first line medications used for dementia symptoms and the associated agitation.