Agitation, aggression, and other difficult behaviors are common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Often, these behaviors are managed with antipsychotic and other psychiatric drugs. However, while a pharmacological approach may be simple to implement, it is not necessarily in the best interest of the patient.
A paper in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society recommends nonpharmacological approaches before resorting to medication. “ Often, more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia. The symptoms are experienced almost universally, across dementia stages and causes,” according to Dr Helen C Kales, head of the University of Michigan Program for Positive Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry, and senior author of the paper.
Dr Helen C Kales, head of the University of Michigan Program for Positive Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry
The paper includes the recommendations of a multidisciplinary expert panel, which found specific non-medication approaches that help reduce behavioral issues by addressing the situations that trigger them. The panel recommends a comprehensive behavioral management approach, with the acronym DICE, and acronym of Describe, Investigate, Evaluate, and Create. The approach is as follows:
DESCRIBE the situations in which the problem behaviors occur.
INVESTIGATE the sleep habits, medications, symptoms, and general health status of the person with Alzheimer’s, and consider how they might combine with the physical and social context discovered in the Describe stage.
CREATE a plan to adjust the environment and activities of the person with Alzheimer’s in order to minimize — and, even better, to prevent — these behavioral issues. Creating a support plan for the caregiver is also an important step in the Create stage, since caregivers also suffer when these behaviors are manifest.
EVALUATE how well the plan is working, and what might need to change.
By focusing closely on these steps, and going through as many iterations as required in order to optimize the care plan, many people with Alzheimer’s are able to manage the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s without resorting to potent psychiatric medication.
Being able to use nonpharmacological treatment, however, requires a health team that is specially trained in their use. At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, we provide care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.
The caregivers in our Alzheimer’s unit are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love.
For the safety and well-being of our cognitively impaired residents, we have a separate secure unit, whose wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate. Our goal? To create an environment with a sense of familiarity and security.
Our care program for the cognitively impaired helps residents maximize cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life.
For people in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.