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Beyond Medicine, Providing a Way of Life

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine brought some intriguing information to light. The study is entitled “Patients with Advanced Dementia Continue Receiving Medications of Questionable Benefit,” and was led by Jennifer Tjia, M.D., M.S.C.E., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Bottom Line? More than half of nursing home residents with advanced dementia continue to receive medications of questionable benefit (including medications to treat dementia) at substantial financial cost – about $800 every three months. The most commonly prescribed medications were the dementia therapies cholinesterase inhibitors (like Aricept) and memantine hydrochloride (like Namenda).

There have been amazing developments in the world of dementia drugs – lots of progress, lots of challenges. And certainly, advancements in pharmacological solutions will continue to play a vital role in improving treatment.

Here at The Ivey, we’re proud that our unique non-pharmacological approach to care also plays a vital role. We surround our Members with compassionate and insightful professionals who believe in a holistic approach to dementia care. Full health screenings and comprehensive care plans help ensure that they are getting everything they need at each and every stage of their dementia journey. And close ongoing monitoring of each Member’s tailored care regimen helps us identify if a Member is getting something that they don’t need (i.e., a superfluous drug) or needs an adjustment to their plan. We exist to compliment and contribute to a dignified and quality way of life for people living with memory loss due to Alzheimer’s or other dementias. It’s a way of life that values being empowered by wellness, knowledge and happiness.

Imagine if the nearly 54% of the 5,406 study participants with advanced dementia who “received at least one medication of questionable benefit” had the opportunity to attend a center like The Ivey earlier on, when their symptoms first began to show or immediately upon diagnosis. They would have benefited from a unique, research-based approach to care, one that embraces the proven value of such things as wellness programs, social engagement, mental, physical and creative stimulation, and family resources and support – all with no additional drugs. These approaches have been shown to slow the disease’s progress and greatly enhance quality of life…which is why we always tell people, “Start Sooner, Remember Longer.”

Like turning a massive ocean liner, degree by degree, studies like this one are slowly-but-surely helping to encourage the medical community to embrace a more inclusive approach to care. In fact, The Institute of Medicine now recommends clinicians minimize drug interventions for advanced dementia, “and instead focus on maximizing quality of life.”

To that I say, “All aboard!”

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