A new study has shown that a program that gives families with loved ones who suffer from dementia the tools necessary to help better care for them has lowered the use of nursing homes. This new program uses a telephone-based program where non-medical managers use assessments and evidence-based protocols to help educate and offer support to people treating family members with dementia and other cognitive impairments. This study highlights the need for new dementia care programs and proves that this type of system can be implemented on a large scale.
Results of the Study
According to one of the primary researchers of the study, almost fifteen percent of seniors over the age of seventy years old have some form of dementia. The study looked at around 250 caregivers that enlisted in the program and 250 caregivers in their normal routine that did not use the program. At the end of the study, the research showed that the caregivers enrolled in the new program were more satisfied with the level of care and had more confidence in their ability to care for their loved one.
In addition, the study found that nursing home use with the caregivers using the program was lower than the normal routine group. It found that many caregivers using the program called regarding care management strategies, and the researchers further surmised that the program is best suited for caregivers treating family members with moderate to severe dementia issues.
Furthermore, the telephone-based evidence system is easy to replicate with other providers and in other geographic areas. This model based itself on best practices and involved the entire care team in its implementation. It involved aspects of care that are not always a part of dementia treatment such as non-medication based approach to care, a method of safe return if a dementia patient wandered off, and the creation of advance directives for care.
More Dementia Care is Needed
Care for seniors with dementia is one of the most pressing needs for elder care. According to research, over fifteen percent of seniors over the age of seventy years old have some level of dementia or other cognitive impairment. The percentage quickly increases for seniors over the age of eighty years old. Nevertheless, this study showed that an evidence-based care model for caregivers treating family members with dementia is a system that can work.
However, there is still room for improvement and overall there is a greater need for quality dementia care. In many cases, when a senior with dementia requires a certain level of care their family members are forced to place them in a nursing home facility or other assisted living. One small issue in this study was that the new program does cost more than routine care overall, but the difference was not significant. As one doctor pointed out, “if it gave better care and did not cost significantly more, why wouldn’t you want to implement a similar program?”