Helping Older Adults Manage Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

It’s a fact of life that our brains change as we grow older, and as they do, we might notice some subtle differences in the way they work.

Aging adults are often increasingly prone to misplacing items or struggling to recall something from the past, for example. These shifts are natural and pose no significant issues for many people. But for some, brain changes can lead to serious conditions, such as dementia or other cognitive disorders.

So what should older adults, concerned loved ones, and clinicians know about severe cognitive decline? How do its symptoms differ from normal signs of aging? And what about possible behavioral complications?

Audience Questions

Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, breaks down what we should know about dementia and other cognitive disorders, shares tips for finding effective treatment, and answers audience questions about supporting someone living with these conditions.

  • How does the brain change naturally over time?
  • What are the key differences between normal age-related memory decline, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia?
  • What are the most common dementias? And what are their hallmarks?
  • How is dementia diagnosed?
  • Does it concern you when the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are used interchangeably?
  • What do we know about the role of genetics when it comes to dementia?
  • How does gender factor into dementia?
  • How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
  • What can a person do to help prevent dementia?
  • What should we know about the relationships between dementia and mental health challenges?
  • Is it normal for an older adult to demonstrate confusion and/or difficulty with cognitive functioning after surgery or certain medical procedures?
  • If a family member has dementia, how much should you tell them about their condition?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Forester

Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, is the Dr. Frances S. Arkin Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, psychiatrist in chief and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, and director of Behavioral Health for Tufts Medicine. He previously served as the chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at McLean Hospital and senior medical director for Value-Based Care Solutions in the Population Health Management department at Mass General Brigham.

Dr. Forester is an expert in geriatric psychiatry, specializing in the treatment of older adults with depression, bipolar disorder, and behavioral complications of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His research focuses on novel treatment approaches to manage the disabling behavioral complications of dementia, such as agitation and aggression.

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Originally aired on March 21, 2023