June is Alzheimer and Brain Awareness

Collaborative care is a frequently used term within the management of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s care planning. However, what is meant by the term is often vague and non-descriptive. Outcomes do not often reflect what the contributions of each of the members is providing and how this shapes the patient experience. Creating an effective strategy requires collaboration through the diagnostic process with the active sharing of information to support practitioners in the treatment and management of the disease complexities (Clare et al., 2019). Further, collaborative strategies should engage the latest research and approaches to support patients and families in their collective goals for treatment and quality of life (Clare et al., 2019). When interventions are truly collaborative, patients experience a lower hospitalization rate, and for the specific management of dementia, they experience a delay in institutionalization which improves quality of life measures and the family experience with interventions (Heintz et al., 2020). With the increasing number of individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is often a precursor but not always to dementia, our approach as providers needs to be collaborative to support early identification and subsequent treatment plans that address patient and family desires (Hlavka et al., 2019).

The Dementia Care Practice Recommendations (Fazio et al., 2018) identify the goals of quality dementia care should address:

  • Person-centered care
  • Detection and diagnosis
  • Assessment and care planning
  • Medical management
  • Information, education and support
  • Ongoing care for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and support for activities of daily living
  • Staffing
  • Supportive and therapeutic environments
  • Transitions and coordination of services

Part of this dynamic is a shift in working with the patient and their families in the planning of these needs which is often not of immediate concern once the diagnosis is given. Often, there is a push for a medication-driven solution which is only a small piece of a much larger picture.