Many caregivers and physicians experience difficulties managing the day-to-day behaviors associated with dementia. The behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) can include anger, anxiety, refusing needed care, wandering, aggression, and hallucinations, to name a few. Treatment options for BPSD are limited and caregivers are often left to deal with these stressful behaviors on their own. Physicians rely on communication with family members to understand behaviors and symptoms experienced between doctor visits. However, physicians reiterated that oftentimes caregivers “couldn’t remember what they had for breakfast,” let alone accurately communicate symptoms or behavioral trends they witnessed since the last visit. This created critical information gaps that put physicians at a disadvantage without complete data of the behavioral progression between clinical visits.
CaringWire deployed an evidence-based tool based on research from the University of Michigan to create a novel, text-based program to investigate the BPSD for each patient. This tool is CaringWire’s Dementia Behavioral Log (DBL), a complement to existing clinical care models that engages family caregivers to better understand challenging behaviors. Here’s how it works; family caregivers receive daily text messages with links to brief surveys that give physicians a better understanding of the patient’s BPSD. Physicians then utilize summary analysis of inputs to develop a strategic plan to reduce or prevent challenging behaviors.
There are many potential benefits DBLs provide when caring for dementia patients. Overall positive effects are seen with the patients, caregivers, and physicians. The patients benefit from a reduction in agitation and anxiety because once the BPSD are able to be quantified for a patient, the treatment and care becomes more personalized. Specific symptoms that are negatively affecting the patient can be targeted when the physician is made aware. Furthermore, reducing or eliminating negative symptoms of dementia leads to an increased quality of life.
Other benefits can be seen in the caregivers of dementia patients. Caregivers who use DBLs report higher confidence and reduced stress. In addition, they become a key stakeholder in overall care delivery by helping prevent, reduce, or eliminate problematic or stressful symptoms.
Finally, the physicians benefit because DBLs can be an excellent evidence-based addition to existing treatment strategies for dementia. DBLs also enable clinicians to consider the roles of nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments concurrently. ConcertoCare, a provider of at-home care, describes CaringWire’s DBLs as providing “information that we previously never had access to, giving us a clear picture rather than guess and check approaches.” Both clinicians and our partners report satisfaction after using DBLs.
CaringWire’s DBL alleviates stress for all parties involved, as seen above. Notably, there are also financial benefits for those who implement DBLs. For many patients, symptom progression would normally result in placement in an assisted living facility, which is the most expensive level of care. The DBLs provide the clinicians with symptom trends to help them modify treatment plans to optimize outcomes. By identifying symptoms early and empowering caregivers to manage them, CaringWire's DBLs help prevent costly escalations of care and keep patients in their homes as long as possible.
Summary of CaringWire's DBLs and their benefits:
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