Over the next several years the aging population is expected to grow at an increasingly rapid rate. This means chronic medical conditions, such as memory disorders, will become even more common.
Memory disorders can be challenging for patients and their families, both physically and emotionally. Given this, a team-based approach is most beneficial in providing comprehensive care.
Patient and caregivers’ needs will vary and likely evolve throughout the progression of dementia, which will require the involvement of both a medical and social support team to improve disease management.
A team involving people of different backgrounds and perspectives rather than individuals can better help meet these needs by contributing various resources and expertise. This approach also helps provide unified, coordinated care across a variety of settings, such as home, hospital, senior living community, etc.
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Research has shown that building a care team has improved the overall quality of life of both the patient and caregiver.
A care team for disease management may consist of the following:
▪ Primary care provider, who can diagnose and treat memory disorders as well as other medical conditions
▪ Specialist, usually a neurologist, who can provide expert dementia diagnosis and treatment as well as education
▪ Medical social worker, who can provide support, education and community resource coordination
▪ Rehabilitation services, which can encompass nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy (cognitive rehabilitation)
▪ Home health, which can provide rehabilitation services to homebound individuals
▪ Nutrition/dietitian, who can offer education on nutrition and disease management
Many times your care team will involve family members, friends and community resources, such as:
▪ Organizations such as Alzheimer’s Association for education and support
▪ Clinical trial opportunities
▪ Home-delivered meals
▪ In-home caregiver services
▪ Medical alert services
▪ Legal experts
▪ Financial advisers
▪ Assisted care facilities
A team-based approach not only provides the best possible care for the individual with dementia, but offers better support for the entire family, leading to better outcomes for all.
Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology and Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness and Wellness Center will offer a free educational series, Brainworks at HealthwoRx, for individuals who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and their caregivers.
Programs are scheduled each Wednesday in May from 2-3:30 p.m. at HealthwoRx in the Lexington Green Mall. To register, call 859-260-4354.
Jessica Cain, a physician assistant with Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology, works in Baptist Health Lexington’s Memory Care Clinic.