Though there is no current cure for dementia, care planning provides a holistic approach to help patients and their family manage the disease. In some cases, it can even help slow disease progression by addressing modifiable risk factors.

Comprehensive care planning encompasses a variety of approaches. These can include, but aren’t limited to, lifestyle choices, family support, and treatment for other medical conditions. Importantly, care plans consider factors that can both positively and negatively affect dementing conditions.

Recent Coverage of Dementia and Care Planning

The “silver tsunami” is a frequent topic in the healthcare community with the over-65 population in the U.S. growing rapidly. Media focus has increasingly turned to the impact of cognitive impairment in the elderly. 

Alzheimer’s disease is often the focus of this coverage. However, two recent articles highlighted delirium and frontotemporal dementia, two lesser-known forms of cognitive impairment.

In December 2019, The Wall Street Journal featured an article discussing the negative effects of delirium on elderly surgery patients. Five older adults in U.S. hospitals become delirious every minute — that’s 2.6 million people per year. While it’s unclear what causes delirium in these patients, it results in a greater risk of long-term cognitive decline.

An article in CNN showed it’s not just geriatric patients who are at risk. Frontotemporal dementia impacts much younger patients — sometimes as young as 45. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia may not initially affect memory. Instead, it impacts thinking, reasoning, and emotions. 

These articles were about different forms of dementia at different ages. However, both called attention to dementia care planning as a way to manage and limit the progression of cognitive impairment.

How Care Planning Can Assist Management of Dementia 

Cognitive care planning is an important next step following diagnosis of cognitive impairment. Through individualized medical and behavioral interventions, primary care physicians and neurologists can help their patients maintain their independence, dignity, and quality of life. 

The articles above included behavioral changes that can positively affect dementia. 

Specifically, both cited healthy diets and physical activity as ways to improve brain health. Even low-intensity activity, like walking, is associated with better cognitive outcomes. Other behavioral changes could include getting adequate sleep or limiting alcohol intake.

Avoiding behaviors that have a negative effect is equally important. Talking to patients about elective surgery or poly-pharmacy effects can help them weigh the benefits and risks.

BrainCheck Helps Physicians Provide Dementia Care

The BrainCheck platform helps primary care physicians and neurologists provide comprehensive cognitive healthcare. The easy-to-use assessment battery provides insights to help the doctor diagnose and manage cognitive impairment, as well as associated behavioral health complications. Using validated assessment tools and caregiver input, the physician can guide the patient and family through this challenging condition. 

Download our white paper to learn more about cognitive care planning »

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About the author

Robert Cuyler, PhD

Robert Cuyler is a clinical psychologist with decades of clinical, management and consulting experience. He is a Clinical Advisor at BrainCheck and the chief clinical officer of Palo Alto Health Sciences. He previously served as the CEO of JSA Health Telepsychiatry and clinical advisor to MDLive/Breakthrough Behavioral. Dr. Cuyler received his Ph.D. in psychology from Louisiana State University and his postdoctoral fellowship from the Menninger Foundation.

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