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Dementia Action Week: Strategies for Meaningful Change

Written by Jennifer Kennedy 

Amid the rising prevalence of dementia—affecting over 6.7 million Americans with projections set to reach 13.8 million by 2060—Dementia Action Week stands as a crucial reminder. This observance prompts us to reflect on the expansive impact of dementia and drives us to revolutionize care practices for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. It’s a period for examining our current strategies and committing to innovative, empathetic approaches that ensure that all involved receive the care and support they need. Dementia Action Week is our opportunity to ignite change and advocate for enhancements in care that are both compassionate and comprehensive.

Navigating Dementia Care

Navigating dementia care involves understanding the condition, accessing resources, and making decisions that prioritize the well-being of the individual with dementia and their caregiver. Caring for this population can be a heavy lift for everyone involved. Clinicians must utilize all their skills and work as a team with all care providers to keep patients in a home-based care environment and support the care network. Optimal care includes a holistic approach which includes management of physical symptoms and extending patience and empathy to those impacted. It’s crucial to recognize that each patient’s journey is unique, and as such, the care provided must be tailored to meet diverse and evolving needs. Dementia care can be complex and challenging, but with the right information, support, and planning, clinicians can help to provide the best possible quality of life for those diagnosed.  

Facing the growing challenge of specialized care, community-based providers who skillfully combine clinical expertise with strategic business practices stand out, especially in dementia care, where both patient needs, and market dynamics are constantly evolving.

Integrating a person-centered approach not only fulfills the clinical objectives of tailored care but also boosts patient satisfaction, leading to increased retention and referrals. This approach is reinforced by guidelines such as those from The Alzheimer’s Association, which emphasize the importance of adapting care to meet the individual needs of those with dementia to improve their quality of life and reduce healthcare costs​.

Addressing both the psychosocial and physical needs of patients is crucial, as neglecting either can impact overall care quality​ (BMC Geriatrics)​. Additionally, adopting innovative care delivery models can promote health equity and improve care quality, essential for sustainable business growth​ (National Institute on Aging)​.

Strategies for Home-Based Providers

For healthcare providers offering home-based care for dementia patients, immediate and practical strategies can greatly enhance care quality and effectiveness. Here are actionable steps that can be implemented right away:

  1. Comprehensive Assessment: Regularly perform comprehensive clinical assessments to monitor the progression of dementia and identify any new health issues. This includes cognitive assessments, physical health checks, and evaluations of emotional well-being.
  2. Personalized Care Plans: Develop individualized care plans based on each patient’s specific clinical needs, preferences, and stage of dementia. Tailor interventions to manage symptoms and maintain as much independence as possible.
  3. Medication Management: Carefully manage medications to avoid polypharmacy and adverse interactions, common issues in elderly patients with multiple health conditions. Regularly review prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
  4. Behavioral Management Techniques: Implement non-pharmacological interventions to manage challenging behaviors such as aggression, wandering, or agitation. Techniques can include structured daily activities, therapeutic communication, and environmental modifications to reduce triggers.
  5. Pain Management: Be vigilant about assessing pain, which can be under-reported in dementia patients who may have difficulty communicating. 
  6. Nutritional Support: Monitor nutritional intake and hydration regularly, as dementia can lead to decreased appetite and difficulty eating or drinking. Implement nutritional strategies like easy-to-eat meals, scheduled hydration, and, if necessary, dietary supplements.
  7. Family and Caregiver Training: Provide ongoing education and support for families and caregivers on how to implement care plans and manage daily challenges. This can include training on specific care techniques, signs of health deterioration, and effective communication strategies.

Enhancing Dementia Care: CMS GUIDE Model

CHAP’s Dementia Disease Program Certification is a perfect vehicle to assist providers participating in this CMS program. Our dementia standards guide organizations to provide safe, high-quality care to dementia patients, which dovetails with the GUIDE model’s overarching goal of improving the quality of life of people living with dementia in the most appropriate setting.

For more details on how CHAP’s certification works with CMS GUIDE, visit the Dementia Disease Program Certification page.

Your Pathway to Becoming the Provider of Choice

Now that you’re equipped with effective strategies for dementia care, are you ready to enhance your framework and become the provider of choice? CHAP’s Dementia Disease Program Certification offers you the structure and resources needed to implement these strategies effectively. By becoming certified, your agency will not only meet the essential standards but also excel, setting you apart as a leader in home-based dementia care. This certification is your pathway to becoming the preferred choice for those seeking high-quality, compassionate care.