An Innovative Model for Dementia Care

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that about 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Within this group, roughly eight of 10 people have dementia but live outside of nursing homes. Many of these patients have significant behavioral or psychological symptoms that require medical and psychological care. About 10 million Americans are family caregivers for sufferers of dementia, but these people aren’t typically the focus of efforts to improve care for patients. The HABC Care Model for Dementia In the May 10, 2006 JAMA, my colleagues and I developed and assessed a new collaborative model of care for dementia in which patients received 1 year of care management by an interdisciplinary team that was led by an advanced practice nurse working with family caregivers and integrated within primary care. The team used standard protocols to initiate treatment and identify, monitor, and treat behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, stressing non-pharmacological management. In this analysis, collaborative care resulted in significant improvements in quality of care and in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia among primary care patients and their caregivers. “Improved dementia care benefits patients, their family caregivers, and the entire healthcare system.” In the January 2011 issue of Aging & Mental Health, we successfully translated the memory care model we developed in the 2006 JAMA study into actual practice. We used the framework of the complex adaptive system and reflective adaptive process to translate the results of the dementia care trial into the Healthy Aging Brain Center (HABC). We essentially extended the definition of “patient” to include family members who enable cognitively impaired individuals to live in the community. Within 12 months of the initial HABC...