Common behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia are agitation, aggression and psychosis, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Often the symptoms are addressed with prescription drugs associated with mental illness. However, a panel of scientists from the Detroit Expert Panel on the Assessment and Management of the Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia developed an acronym to explain how to best approach a dementia patient who is acting out without involving the pharmacy: DICE, or describe, investigate, create and evaluate.
First caretakers should provide the who, what, where and when of the behavior so doctors have more context and understanding. With this information, physicians may be able to determine if the problem is environment-based, social-based, activity-based or caused by another stressor. After that, doctors must investigate the patient's health further. It's helpful to review everything that pertains to and can affect mood, from quality of sleep to current medications and prominent dementia symptoms. Caretakers and doctors then can create a plan to prevent and manage future behavioral issues. This plan could include necessary changes to the patient's setting or activities, as well as education and support for caretakers. Evaluation is the last step for physicians. It's important to acknowledge how the outlined plan for caretakers is being followed and if any changes should be made.
The panel was sponsored by the University of Michigan's Program for Positive Aging. Dr. Helen C. Kales, head of the program, compiled information from the panel into a report that was published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society.
"Often more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia," said Kales. "These symptoms are experienced almost universally, across dementia stages and causes.
Patient-centered treatment is an asset to consider if you're debating transitioning your loved one to a dementia care facility. Contact us at Elmcroft Senior Living Communities to learn about the services and Alzheimer care we offer.