Coping with problem behaviors (DICE approach and a useful caregiver guide book)

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) hosted a two-day summit in October 2017 on research that is needed to improve quality of care of persons with dementia and their caregivers.  The summit was streamed live.  The summit was of most interest to those involved in research.  Only a few useful ideas were shared, including the DICE approach, which we’ve heard about previously.  It is an approach to responding to difficult behaviors.

DICE =

Describe – the who, what, when and where of situations where problem behaviors occur (the physical and social contexts)

Investigate – current dementia symptoms, medications, sleep habits, etc. that may be contributing to difficult behavior.

Create – a plan to prevent and respond to difficult behaviors by changing environment and educating the caregiver.

Evaluate – how well the plan is being followed and how it is working.  Make necessary adjustments that work for the family.

Recently, Laurie White, a social worker in the North Bay, sent me a copy of her excellent guide for family caregivers on “Coping with Behavior Change in Dementia” (dementiacarebooks.com).  (The book is to be shared within our local support group.)  Basically, this is a handbook to implementing the DICE approach.  Laurie and co-author Beth Spencer begin by saying that the family caregiver must become a “detective” to understand the cause of these behaviors.  They address coping with the 4As – anxiety, agitation, anger, and aggression – among other problems.  One guide book gives lots more helpful ideas to dementia caregiving than an entire two-day NIH conference!

Robin

 

Dealing with lack of motivation and helping someone accomplish tasks (with coaching)

CareGiving.com runs a “Caregiving Podcast Network” on Blog Talk Radio. Every week, they host a 30-minute “FTD Chat” about various aspects of frontotemporal degeneration. (Both PSP and CBD are FTD disorders.) In a chat over the summer, guest speaker Geri Hall, PhD, ARNP, talked about motivating someone with FTD to do things and be less apathetic. As lack of motivation and apathy are issues in all of the disorders in our group, I thought the notes from this podcast were worth sharing with everyone. In addition, the focus of this podcast is helping someone with a neurological disorder do more for themselves, with coaching from the caregiver.

Denise Brown, founder of CareGiving.com, is host of the podcast. The expert speaker, Dr. Geri Hall, works at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute with families coping with all types of neurological disorders.

Brain Support Network volunteer Denise Dagan recently listened to the podcast. Denise has shared some overall insights. Note the two suggestions offered by Dr. Hall —
1- get the help of an occupational therapist
2- have your care receiver attend a day care program

In terms of overall insights, Denise Dagan says:

This 30-minute podcast is a very good talk about helping someone with a neurodegenerative disorder, who is having trouble accomplishing tasks, to be able to do more for themselves with coaching from their caregiver(s). Dr. Hall explains that people with neurodegenerative disorders do have goals. When their executive function process breaks down it prevents them from accomplishing those goals – or even starting them. This is especially true for those with dementia or advanced Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Hall emphasizes that people with executive function issues are not being lazy, willful, or manipulative. She gives specific suggestions for helping them to stay focused to complete each step of a task on the way to their goal. People with [neurological disorders] can suffer from apathy and/or depression, making some projects seem overwhelming. Breaking projects into separate tasks, even over several days, makes them more manageable and less exhausting.

If you have difficulty breaking down a task into its composite steps for your family member, Dr. Hall recommends having your neurologist write you a referral to an occupational therapist (OT) for “Functional assessment and task simplification techniques.” The OT will evaluate your care receiver to establish his/her skill level and teach you, the caregiver, how to break a task into an appropriate number of steps.

Both Dr. Hall and Denise Brown recommend having your care receiver attend an adult day program and pay attention to how they give instruction to the program attendees in a step-by-step fashion. Getting your care receiver used to this method of instruction both at home and at the day program brings continuity to their days. Having a routine both at a day program and home helps them anticipate what comes next.

Denise Dagan’s full notes from the podcast are below.

Robin

===============================================

www.blogtalkradio.com/caregiving/2017/08/24/talking-ftd-with-geri-motivating-persons-with-ftd

Notes by Denise Dagan, Brain Support Network Volunteer

Talking FTD with Geri: Motivating Person with FTD
Caregiving Podcast Network on Blog Talk Radio
August 24, 2017

Denise Brown is the host of this podcast. She has been having her own struggle motivating her husband. She recently put together that her husband is quite capable of participating in activities if she takes the time to instruct him step-by-step.

Denise’s expert guest, Geri Hall, PhD, begins by explaining how executive functioning is required to accomplish a task.

You must be able to:
– Set a goal
– Make a plan to accomplish the goal, and
– Be able to carry out the plan.

A person with executive function difficulties knows what they want to do.
– The more they think about it or concentrate on what’s involved in accomplishing the task, the less they are able to organize their thoughts and accomplish the task.
– They are not being willful or lazy or manipulative. Some days executive function may be better than others. Fatigue makes executive function much worse.
– Depending on the neurodegenerative disorder, they may or may not realize they have difficulty figuring out the proper order in which to do things.

A person with executive function difficulties may:
– Refuse to participate because they cannot immediately think how to get started. Don’t ask, “Do you want to…?” The answer will always be, “No.”

– Wander away in the middle – not because they lost interest or forgot what they were doing, but because they cannot think what to do next to accomplish the goal/task. Sometimes, if you touch their arm to distract them from their mental muddle, and give them the next step to continue toward their goal, they can complete the task at hand.

– Getting the steps mixed up or backward. Putting underwear on outside their outerwear, etc.

– Have difficulty maintaining attention or concentration.

To improve executive function and motivate participation in activities:
– Have a consistent schedule day-to-day. Even so, don’t expect them to be able to know what comes next.

– Use non-verbal prompting. They may not process complex sentences well. Aphasia = not being able to get the words out, but can also include not being able to process what’s being said to them.

— Listening to you splits their concentration from what they are trying to do (like shower), so hand them the soap, rather than tell them to pick it up.

— Trying to follow your instructions makes them think about the task. The more they think about it, the less they are able to finish the task.

– Have bright colored toothbrush, comb, cup, plate, etc. so your care recipient will gravitate toward them – and use them. [My mom liked purple! If it was purple, she would pick it… clothing, cake, toothbrush, comb, etc.]

– Post written instructions (on a white board). This may work early in the disease.

– Task simplification = break activities into steps your family member can follow. Take a bath may become: take off your clothes, use the toilet, turn on the water, get in the shower, etc. Or, you may have to break it down further: take off your shirt, take off your pants, take off your underwear… Have your neurologist write you a referral to an occupational therapist for “functional assessment and task simplification techniques” This teaches the caregiver how to break goals into the number of steps your care receiver needs.

– Get rid of distractions, like the TV. They cannot split their attention.

– Keep activities short in duration. Next time you ask them to participate, notice how long it is before they begin to lose eye contact and drift away from the activity. Keep future activities to just short of that time limit.

– The goal is to get the task done – not necessarily entirely independently.

It definitely can be frustrating. It is easier to just let them watch TV, but the reward is worth the effort because it gets your family member involved with life again. They only watch TV so much because nobody is helping them accomplish things by breaking down the task into each individual step.

Denise Brown was able to have her husband help bake blackberry cobbler by giving him one task at a time until he lost interest. Later she built raised beds for him to garden in because he used to love gardening. She goes out with him and gives him each task to accomplish planting, watering, etc. Then, they made eggplant parmesan together when he brought an eggplant in from his raised garden beds, and were able to enjoy the food together. See if you find joy in your loved one’s face when they are able to do something themselves, even with some assistance. It will warm your heart as a caregiver.

Dr. Geri Hall says to recognize as caregivers you have a lot on your plate and need to develop one way you reward yourself at the end of the day (wine, hot bath, etc. that you find relaxing) as a reward for a job well done in the overwhelming effort you make to engage your loved one in life.

Start with things that are over learned, bathing, eating, hobbies. Your care receiver will be able to participate easier doing these activities with help than doing something that’s totally new. Remember, if it doesn’t work, so what? Try something a bit different tomorrow.

Denise says having your family member go to an adult day program a few times a week helps them to be able to follow these step-by-step instructions at home because that is how the day programs get participation from the program attendees. If you can learn how instruction is presented to your care receiver most effectively, you will be more successful at giving instructions at home. Day programs also follow a routine every day, which helps your care receiver anticipate what comes next.

When your family member is at the day program, you have time for yourself. You should take the opportunity to relax and engage with others outside of caregiving conversation, rather than running errands or doing chores.

You will experience resistance from your care receiver to attending a day program, but if you are persistent and allow them some weeks to acclimate to the new place, people and routine, you may find they really enjoy it, eventually.

 

“Is It Alzheimer’s or Another Type of Dementia? How the Experts Make a Diagnosis”

This post may be of interest to those dealing with the non-Alzheimer’s dementias in our network — Lewy body dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. (PSP and CBD do not always present with dementia.) Lewy body dementia is specifically mentioned in this interview.

Being Patient (beingpatient.com) is an Alzheimer’s news website. In July 2017, the news organization interviewed Dr. Marwan Sabbagh of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. In the interview, Dr. Sabbagh describes the challenge in making a dementia diagnosis. He describes some improvements that could be made in the standard practice of diagnosing dementia.

Dr. Sabbagh says: “Pathologically pure Alzheimer’s without any other pathology is quite rare. It’s only like 33 to 40 percent. Most Alzheimer’s is mixed with something else – hippocampal sclerosis, vascular change, argyrophilic grain [disease], or Lewy body. Pure disease of any type is quite uncommon. A lot of people have overlap but they look typically like Alzheimer’s dementia, so the clinical presentation and the pathological presentation don’t always align as much as you would think they would. … As a clinician, I ask ‘What’s the clinical syndrome and how do we go about teasing it out to make sure we have the correct diagnosis?’ … People are grossly misdiagnosed. Lewy body is not detected often. Most of the other dementias are completely missed.”

The video interview is just under 12 minutes. Excerpts from the interview are copied below. (The “transcript” doesn’t include all of the interview.)

Robin

===============================================

www.beingpatient.com/alzheimers-another-type-dementia-experts-make-diagnosis/

Is It Alzheimer’s or Another Type of Dementia? How the Experts Make a Diagnosis
Interview with Marwan Sabbagh, MD
Being Patient (beingpatient.com)
July 26, 2017

Although the National Institute of Health has published medical reports on guidelines to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, it can sometimes take years for patients to get an accurate diagnosis from their primary care doctors. Expensive scans or lumbar puncture tests are one way to confirm the presence of beta amyloid plaques or tau tangles in the brain, but those aren’t an option for many patients due to their high cost. Being Patient asked Marwan Sabbagh, a leading researcher on the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at the Barrow Neurological Institute about the best way to determine if a patient is suffering from mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

Being Patient: There’s a lot of confusion over how you get diagnosed for Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, we’ve been told that a PET (positron emission tomography) scan or a spinal tap are the only conclusive ways to figure out whether there are plaques and tangles in your brain. Why is there so much confusion over diagnosing dementia?

Marwan Sabbagh: The historical, medical practice in the United States has been to take a diagnosis of exclusion. You have a medical history, a neurological exam, cognitive impairment, historically, and then you get a MRI to exclude brain tumors, masses, hydrocephalus, or stroke. You get a thyroid [exam] to exclude thyroid problems, and you get a B12 level [test] to exclude deficiencies in B12. The problem has been a diagnosis of exclusion is a grossly inaccurate approach and the diagnostic accuracy, at best, is 75 percent.

Being Patient: What are some of the essential questions you need to ask and what are some of the essential things that primary care doctors should be looking at in order to determine whether or not this is Alzheimer’s dementia?

Marwan Sabbagh: I think doctors know how to do a mini-mental state exam – a MOCA, Montreal Cognitive Assessment. They know what to do but they don’t know what questions to ask on the front end, so I’ve been proposing a restructuring of the initial side of the consultation. There are structured interviews that are available now – the AD8, the AQ and the IQ code. These are caregiver informant-based interviews. Do they have this?Do they have that? Are they doing this? [These questions] inform the provider to say, “It’s time to look further.”

The second thing I propose is that we need to look at aggregate risk analysis. There are now ways to say that the probability of Alzheimer dementia is very high if you are age 85, have a family history, female gender, hypertension and diabetes. You can come up with a score that says the probability of Alzheimer dementia is very high.

Being Patient: I want to talk a little bit now about different types of dementia and diagnosis – a number of patients say they were misdiagnosed and a pathologist we spoke to said that, through autopsy, he found that the majority of cases in his practice are being misdiagnosed. How do you tell if it is Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia?

Marwan Sabbagh: Pathologically pure Alzheimer’s without any other pathology is quite rare. It’s only like 33 to 40 percent. Most Alzheimer’s is mixed with something else – hippocampal sclerosis, vascular change, argyrophilic grain (disease) or Lewy body. Pure disease of any type is quite uncommon. A lot of people have overlap but they look typically like Alzheimer’s dementia, so the clinical presentation and the pathological presentation don’t always align as much as you would think they would.

As a clinician, I ask “What’s the clinical syndrome and how do we go about teasing it out to make sure we have the correct diagnosis?” You are absolutely right. People are grossly misdiagnosed. Lewy body is not detected often. Most of the other dementias are completely missed.

Being Patient: Does it matter to the patient in the end in terms of how they’re dealing, and coping, and engaging in maybe lifestyle treatments or medication?

Marwan Sabbagh: It does. It matters a lot. The reason it matters is lifestyle modifications, which are probably very good for brain wellness and prevention strategies in the Alzheimer’s spectrum from pre-symptomatic to the full dementia probably do not have as much data to support the recommendations in other dementias. Flatly, I don’t think there’s any shred of evidence that lifestyle recommendations would help another dementia like Lewy Body or frontotemporal dementia.

Being Patient: Is there a difference in diagnosing early onset versus dementia as Alzheimer’s in an elderly patient?

Marwan Sabbagh: In the way I approach it, yes. Most commonly, if it were a young person, early onset, I would do a spinal tap as my CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) confirmation to confirm the diagnosis. I tend to be a little bit more aggressive and invasive in what I do to diagnose my patients. Older patients, I might get a PET scan and, if it’s approved, I might get neuropsychological testing. I might get an ApoE genotype.

Being Patient: So many people now are impacted by this disease, a lot who are the children of a parent or a grandparent, and they want to know what are the early signs that they should look out for?

Marwan Sabbagh: You never misplaced things, now you’re misplacing things from time to time. You’re telling something repeatedly and you never did that before. These are the kinds of very subtle, very beginning things that would say [it’s] time to get an evaluation. Especially if there’s a risk.

Being Patient: There are people who carry ApoE4, who have both one variant and are homozygous, and there are people who don’t, who end up getting Alzheimer’s. How much should that genetic profile enter into diagnosis?

Marwan Sabbagh: That’s controversial and I’m sure you’ve had different opinions from different doctors so I’m going to give you my perspective. I tend to be on the more progressive side of the discussion. In the clinical evaluation of my patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s or dementia due to Alzheimer’s, I frequently order an ApoE genotype. If they’re an ApoE4 carrier in the setting of MCI or dementia due to Alzheimer’s then the probability of Alzheimer’s pathology in the mix is very high.

I never order it for people who are asymptomatic, even if they have a family history. I agree with many in the field that it’s not inherently a diagnostic, it is simply a risk factor, but it’s a very rich risk factor because, if you are an ApoE4 carrier, the probability of having Alzheimer’s amyloid on your PET scan is very high. Some people are even proposing the idea of using it as a screening tool. Has this become common practice? The answer is absolutely no.

Being Patient: Once you give someone a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, do you believe the earlier you catch it the better off you are?

Marwan Sabbagh: I come from the school of thought that Alzheimer’s is a treatable disease. I am aggressive in treating my patients. I am proactive in addressing their healthcare needs, their family needs, their medication needs, their legal needs, and offering clinical trials as an added value to our clinical practice. Patients want that information. They’re seeking it. They’ve craving it. They want it from a credible source.

 

The need to distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other dementias

This is a long article in a recent LA Times about whether it’s important to distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Understandably, the focus is still on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here are some excerpts:

* “Alzheimer’s disease is the most feared and most common form of dementia, accounting for between 60% and 80% of all dementia cases diagnosed. But at least seven other forms of dementia, and dementia linked to the movement disorder Parkinson’s disease, can cause loss of memory, reasoning, judgment and the ability to speak, comprehend and care for oneself.”

* “Doctors and insurers, including the federal government, which administers Medicare, are asking some variants of the same questions: If an effective test, which costs between $3,000 and $5,000 a shot, can diagnose dementia early, and distinguish Alzheimer’s from other forms of dementia, should it be recommended to patients with cognitive concerns and routinely covered by their insurance? Would it make patients’ lives better, or lower the cost of their care?”

* “At the Alzheimer’s Assn. International Conference in London last week, researchers reported their preliminary findings from a trial that is testing the impact of diagnostic testing for Alzheimer’s disease on nearly 19,000 Medicare beneficiaries … with a diagnosis of either ‘mild cognitive impairment’ or atypical dementia. The study … set out to find out whether knowing — getting the costly test that would offer either confirmation or reprieve — would change the way that patients with cognitive troubles are treated, or the way that they plan their lives. The preliminary results suggested it did. After getting the results of a PET brain scan to detect and measure amyloid deposits, which are the key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, roughly two-thirds of the subjects saw their medication regimens changed or were counseled differently by their doctors about what to expect. That new information may have guided family caregivers in planning their own futures, or prodded patients to make financial decisions and power-of-attorney assignments sooner. Some who learned that they did not have Alzheimer’s discontinued medications that can have unpleasant side effects. Others learned they do have Alzheimer’s and decided to enroll in clinical trials that will test new drugs.”

* “A second study presented in London analyzed data from several studies, and found that in a large population of research participants with cognitive concerns, brain amyloid PET scans led to a change in diagnosis in approximately 20% of cases.”

* “To the estimated 16 million Americans living with some form of cognitive impairment, telling the difference could make a significant difference. Dementia forms with different origins progress differently (or sometimes not at all). They respond best to different medications, and will come to require different levels of care and treatment. Some (though not Alzheimer’s) can even be reversed with treatment. Being able to distinguish which form of dementia a patient has should help doctors and caregivers to make better choices.”

Here’s a link to the full article:

www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-alzheimers-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-20170726-story.html

Science Now
Is it Alzheimer’s or another dementia form? Why doctors need to distinguish and how they might do so
by Melissa Healy
LA Times
July 27, 2017

Robin

 

PSP and CBS excerpts from curriculum on dementia for healthcare professionals

Someone in our local support group recently sent me this link to US Dept. of Health and Human Services’s curriculum for physicians (especially primary care physicians) and healthcare professionals (social workers, psychologists, pharmacists, emergency department staffs, dentists, etc.) on dementia. Though the web address includes the term “Alzheimer’s,” frontotemporal dementia is also mentioned in this curriculum:

Training Curriculum: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
Health Resources and Services Administration (part of Dept of HHS)
bhw.hrsa.gov/grants/geriatrics/alzheimers-curriculum

One of the types of frontotemporal dementia is the “motor type,” which include corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Here are some excerpts on frontotemporal dementia.

Robin

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Overview of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia for an Interprofessional Team (Module 1)

Frontotemporal Dementia Types
* There are at least 3 distinctive clinical syndromes, each with heterogeneous neuropathology.
– Progressive behavior/personality decline: behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD)
– Progressive language decline: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA)
– Progressive motor decline: corticobasal syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or [progressive] supranuclear palsy. FTD with progressive motor decline is rare. FTD with progressive motor decline can involve movement problems/slowed movement, muscle rigidity (Parkinsonian symptoms), body stiffness, and changes in behavior or language.
* Behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) is the most common variant. It is characterized by marked personality changes and changes in social conduct.


Understanding Early-Stage Dementia for an Interprofessional Team (Module 5)

Early-Stage Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD): Overview
* FTD is a heterogeneous group of diseases with overlapping clinical symptoms but different causative genes and differing underlying pathologies.
* FTD is caused by damage to frontal and/or temporal lobes. Impairments generally progress quickly but memory often remains intact.
* Persons with FTD demonstrate changes in behavior and personality, language problems, and motor problems.
( Memory impairment is minimal in early stages.


Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Persons Living with Dementia (Module 12)

When to Consider Hospice Care in Persons with End-Stage FTD
* Persons with end-stage FTD are generally younger and healthier than persons with other types of end-stage dementia.
* As with other dementias, FTD is often not recognized as a terminal diagnosis.
* End-stage FTD may “look different” than other advanced dementias.

 

“How to Choose a Dementia Care Facility. Avoid My Mistakes.”

This is a very helpful article about choosing a dementia care facility.  The author is North Carolina-based Donna Plunkett St. Clair, whose husband was diagnosed with dementia in 2010 at age 59 and then with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) in 2015 at age 65.  Donna shares the mistakes she made in choosing the wrong care facility…twice.

Here are the ten lessons Donna learned:

1.  Start investigating potential facilities NOW.
2.  Learn how your loved one’s care will change as he/she declines.
3.  Learn how “problems behaviors” are defined and ask about examples of what might lead to a resident being forced to leave the facility.
4.  Know what you can afford.
5.  Assess if the facility is using innovative designs.
6.  Ask if the resident can safely go outside.
7.  Ask about safety.
8.  Inquire about staffing levels, activities, and supervision for holidays, evenings, and weekends.
9.  Ask if residents are encouraged to stay hydrated, and are offered second helpings and snacks.
10.  Check service levels and quality when the facility least expects you.

These lessons are detailed in the article here:

www.lewybodydementia.ca/dementia-care-facility-choice-avoid-mistakes/

How to Choose a Dementia Care Facility. Avoid My Mistakes.
By Donna Plunkett St. Clair
Posted to Lewy Body Dementia Canada
May 29, 2016

Robin

 

Lewy Body Dementia Info on Dementia Aide (website)

Dementia Aide, a relatively new website (dementiaaide.com), is focused on selling what it calls dementia-related products.  While a few things such as t-shirts are disorder-specific, most of the products are caregiving items.  They have pages on their website for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia (LBD).

The LBD section, written in September 2016, won’t be added to our list of “Top Resources” but it’s worth checking out.  They seem to have pieced together information from lots of different resources (not always giving attribution every place they could.)  For example, the chart on the difference between LBD, Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and Alzheimer’s is straight from the Lewy Body Dementia Association but this is only pointed out in one place (not everywhere the chart is).

You might check out their infographic on what they say are the four stages of LBD (on the symptoms page).

The only obvious error I saw was that they don’t have an accurate description of “Lewy body dementia” within the Lewy body disease family.  They show Lewy body dementia is the same thing as Dementia with Lewy Body.  Actually, Lewy Body Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to both Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.

Here’s a link to the LBD section:

www.dementiaaide.com/pages/lewy-body-dementia

Robin

Six tips on coping with inappropriate dementia behavior; saying “I’m sorry”

The Capital Gazette newspaper has a column written by Mary Chaput of the Department of Aging and Disabilities of Annapolis, MD.  A recent column had a question about frontotemporal dementia.  Ms. Chaput’s answer applies to dealing with someone with any type of dementia.

In terms of dealing with inappropriate behavior, she offers six tips:

* Don’t take the behavior or comments personally.
* Be empathetic.
* Don’t argue.
* Look for the situation(s) and environmental factors that trigger the behaviors.
* Talk with your family member’s physician about the behavior.
* Keep in mind that this, too, shall pass.

Another question was about saying “I’m sorry” to placate someone with dementia.

Here’s a link to the full column:

www.capitalgazette.com/lifestyle/ph-ac-cc-caregivers-0402-20170401-story.html

Caregivers Corner: Be patient and empathetic when dealing with frontotemporal dementia
by Mary Chaput, Correspondent
Capital Gazette
April 1, 2017

Robin

 

Notes from webinar on three non-AD dementias, including Lewy Body Dementia

There was a 90-minute webinar on April 6th, hosted by Resources for Integrated Care, was packed with lots of info on dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) with less info on vascular dementia (VAD).  (Note that throughout the webinar, with few exceptions, the term “Lewy body dementia” was used.)  The webinar, for both healthcare professionals and family caregivers, was fast-paced.  Presentations were for the first hour, and then there was a 30-minute Q&A.

You can find a link to the webinar recording here:

www.resourcesforintegratedcare.com/GeriatricCompetentCare/2017_GCC_Webinar_Series/Beyond_Alzheimers

You can find a link to the webinar slides here:

www.resourcesforintegratedcare.com/sites/default/files/Beyond_Alzheimers_Disease_0.pdf

VAD, DLB, and FTD are the most common dementia types after Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  Here are short definitions:

* Vascular dementia – cognitive deficits most often associated with vascular damage in the brain, either micro or macro in nature.

* Dementia with Lewy Bodies – a dementia that also includes one or more of these core findings: recurrent and detailed visual hallucinations, parkinsonian signs, and fluctuating cognition.

* Frontotemporal dementia – a disease often seen in individuals with onset of cognitive symptoms at a younger age; these individuals present most often with executive and language dysfunction and significant behavioral changes.

The management strategies that are effectively in AD are less effective in these other three dementia types.

Brain Support Network volunteer-extraordinaire Denise Dagan listened to the webinar a couple of times and took extensive notes on the LBD content and some notes on the other two dementias.  She has provided the time stamp at various points so that you can fast forward through the recording, if you’d like.

Robin

————————–

Denise’s Notes from

Beyond Alzheimer’s Disease, Other Causes of Prerogative Dementia in the Older Adult
Webinar hosted by Resources for Integrated Care
April 6, 2017

Presenters:
* Melinda S. Lantz, MD, Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY
* Geri Hall, PhD, ARNP, CNS, FAAN, Banner Health, Phoenix, AZ
* Rebekkah Wilson, MSW, Dementia Care Consultant and Trainer
* Sharon Hall, Family Caregiver (to someone with FTD)

After many housekeeping comments and credits, introduction of the webinar presenters begins at time stamp 3:15.

DR. LANTZ SPEAKS….

DEMENTIA

After some audience polling, Dr. Lantz begins at time stamp 9:15 with how dementia is identified and diagnosed by evaluation as there are no clinical tests yet available to diagnose any type of dementia.

Dementia is a major neurocognitive disorder.  According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (APA DSM5), to be diagnosed with dementia a person must exhibit significant decline from a previous level in the five domains of cognitive functioning, which include:
* Complex attention
* Executive function
* Learning and memory, language
* Perceptual-motor
* Social cognition

Diagnosis is based on collateral information including self-reporting, standardized neuropsychological testing or quantified clinical assessment.

Cognitive deficits interfere with everyday activities, social or occupational functioning.

MCI

Mild Neurocognitive Disorder [Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)], according to the APA DSM5, does not meed criteria for dementia.  MCI is described as:
* Subjective and objective decline in cognitive domain: primarily memory, language or motor
* No significant impairment in:
— Other cognitive domains
— Activities of Daily living
— Social or occupational functioning
* 10-15% of patients with MCI progress to develop dementia each year
* “Precursor of dementia” versus spectrum of normal aging
* Patients with MCI should be identified and monitored for cognitive and functional decline due to their increased risk for dementia
* There are no currently FDA approved medications for MCI

VASCULAR DEMENTIA

Vascular Dementia = dementia due to cerebrovascular disease.
* Cognitive loss due to cerebrovascular disease
* 2nd most common cause in late-life after Alzheimer’s.
* Risk factors:
— Hypertension (high blood pressure)
— Diabetes
— Hyperlipidemia
— Smoking
— TIAs (transient ischemic attack) or mini-stroke is a neurological event with the signs and symptoms of a stroke, but which go away within a short period of time.
— Stroke.
* Decline may be abrupt due to a stroke or series of TIAs
* Cognitive loss may be focal, with more awareness of symptoms
* Disturbance of emotions and mood is common
* Caregiving needs are due to medical and physical conditions (paralysis of one side of the body due to stroke, and multiple medical problems and medications).
* Decline may be step-wise with plateaus in symptoms.  They may recover after 1st stroke, but decline years later due to more strokes.
* Mixed variants of dementia (Alzheimer’s with vascular dementia) are common.
* More men than women because men have more vascular disease than women.

She displayed a scan of vascular dementia at time stamp 13:45

She inserted a slide of two other types of vascular dementia at time stamp 14:00, but didn’t discuss them.

LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Lewy Body Dementia
* Memory loss and other cognitive deficits that often have a fluctuating and variable course, and relatively rapid onset
* Motor rigidity, parkinsonism features
* Prominent hallucinations, usually visual
* Unsteady gait, syncope (fainting), unexplained falls
* More rapidly deteriorating course
* 3rd most common dementia after Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementias
* more common in men than women

She displayed a microscope image of a lewy body at time stamp 15:30

Sensitivity to all psychiatric meds, but definitely psychosis requiring meds, which makes it complex to treat.

FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA

Frontotemporal dementia at time stamp 16:12
* Significantly earlier onset between 40-60 yrs old because of slow and subtle onset
* Atrophy prominent in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (associated with personality, mood, behavior, impulse control)
* Slow onset with early changes in personality, impulse control and language
* Memory, arithmetic, copying figures often preserved until later in the course so difficult to diagnose early on
* Behavior often disinhibited, repetitive, socially inappropriate
* Prominent personality change very early
* Early onset with very slow, progressive decline
* Memory impairment later in the course
* Behavior changes: Disinhibition, impulsivity, apathy, depression, verbal outbursts
* Lack of recognition, agnosia (Inability to interpret sensations and hence to recognize things, people and/or sounds.  With agnosia they are particularly unable to recognize their own changes in behavior and capabilities, hampering diagnosis and caregiving.)
* Treatment is very symptom driven as there are no agents available for prevention or slowing progression

Two subtypes: Pick’s disease and frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism at time stamp 17:52

She displayed a Pick body microscope image at time stamp 18:05

TREATMENT

Treatment of Cognitive Symptoms of Vascular and Lewy body Dementia:
* Cholinesterase Inhibitors slows the rate of decline:  Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine, for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s (AD), Vascular dementia (VAD), mixed the benefits relatively similar: +3 points ADAS-Cog, 4 to 6 Month delay in progression
* Individual response variable and difficult to measure:  20% of patients show “Greater than average” response, 20% “some response”, but 30-50% show no response
* Greatest effect appears to be delay in need for nursing home placement of 6 to 8 months
* NO ROLE for use in Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), may worsen behavioral symptoms

Treatment of Cognitive Symptoms:
* Rivastigmine may be more helpful in LBD than the other available cholinesterase inhibitors
* Memantine is approved by the FDA for Alzheimer’s, but not enough evidence to show benefit for other types of dementia
* Cholinesterase inhibitors have no benefit in FTD and may worsen mood and behavior
* Cholinesterase inhibitors may cause nausea, vomiting, weight loss (due to GI upset) and bradycardia (slow heart rate)

Pharmacologic Treatment for targeted severe symptoms:
* The idea is to minimize symptoms without side effects, especially from poly-pharmacy.
Use of these is justified when patients are disturbed by hallucinations, especially if they try to act on them in dangerous ways.
* Not a substitute for good care and behavioral management.
* Psychosis (hallucinations, delusion) > Rx options: Antipsychotic Agents (risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, aripiprazole)
* Depression, Anxiety, & Irritability > Rx options: SSRI (sertraline, citalopram) or bupropion, trazodone, mirtazapine)
— These are particularly common early in these dementias, when mood treatment can be particularly helpful.

Pharmacologic Treatment for physical aggression:
* These are all off-label drug uses, but can be helpful.
* Severe Physical aggression (also helpful for severe impulsivitity and mood lability > Rx options: Mood Stabilizer (valproate, lithium, carbamazepine, gabapentin)
* Moderate Physical Aggression > Rx options: Mood Stabilizer

She put up three slides with Dosing Guidelines and Side-Effects charts for antidepressants and mood stabilizers at time stamp 23:37

DR. HALL SPEAKS….

Symptom presentation in dementia depends on these factors and directly affect care challenges:
* Location of the degeneration
* Function of the degenerated area of the brain
* Pathologic changes at the cellular level (e.g. presence of Lewy bodies)
* Comorbid conditions
* Environmental factors producing excess disability
* Premorbid personality

At time stamp 25:22 she put up PET scan imagines distinguishing dementias from each other (kind of amazing).

The location of damage is different, therefore so are care needs:
* Due to time constraints we will examine two more common non-Alzheimer’s dementias:
— Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)
— Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTD or FTLD)

LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Lewy Body Dementia:  Three common presentations
* Regardless of the initial symptom, over time all three presentations of LBD will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep and behavioral features.
* Some individuals will start out with a movement disorder leading to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and later develop dementia.  This is diagnosed at Parkinson’s disease dementia.
* Another group of individuals will start out with a cognitive/memory disorder that may be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, but over time two or more distinctive features of fluctuating cognition and psychosis (hallucinations and/or delusions) become apparent leading to the diagnosis of ‘dementia with Lewy Bodies’ (DLB).
* Lastly, a small group will first present with neuropsychiatric symptoms, which can include hallucinations (primarily visual, but also olfactory or auditory), behavioral problems, and difficulty with complex mental activities, also leading to an initial diagnosis of DLB.

Common Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia:
* Sleep disorders (can be present up to two years prior to LBD diagnosis)
— Acting out dreams while asleep
— Excessive daytime sleepiness
— Restless leg movement
* Impaired thinking
— Executive function (planning, processing information.)
— Memory fluctuates
— Ability to understand visual information fluctuates
* Problems with movement
— Tremors, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking
— Anti-Parkinson medications often don’t work well and may cause initial hallucinations
* Altered sensory perception (particularly visual-spacial perception)
* Hallucinations
— Often of animals or children
* Behavioral and Mood Symptoms
— Depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, delusions or paranoia
* Changes in Autonomic Body Functions
— Blood pressure control, temperature regulation, postural control (tend to fall a lot), bladder and bowel function
* Exquisite Sensitivity to medications, particularly those that affect the central nervous system.
— Don’t use old generation antipsychotics.  With new antipsychotics, start with a low dose and ramp up to an effective dose.
— Don’t use general anesthesia.

Care of Lewy Body Dementia:
* Similar to Alzheimer’s – decrease stimuli, increase rest, promote exercise (Big & Loud Programs) and balance
* Safety due to REM sleep disorder, fall precautions due to autonomic dysfunction, swallowing issues
* Supportive (self-care) activities of daily living (ADLs)
* Control of misleading environmental stimuli (especially TV) and medications that trigger hallucinations and delusions
* Prepare family for response to potential aggression
* LBD Association and support groups

Use of Therapies:
* Physical therapy – Design a program and teach to patient/family focusing on postural stability and core strength
* Exercise Programs – Big and LOUD Programs!!!
* Recreational Therapy
* Occupational therapy – ADLs
* Speech pathology – swallowing, spoken volume
* Pharmacist consultation – OTCs can be problematic and interact, so ask before taking anything.

Lew Body Dementia Support and Resources slide includes a list of resources, including encouragement to attend local support group meetings.

Robin’s note:  See Brain Support Network’s list of top LBD resources here, which includes the two resources Dr. Hall mentioned:

www.brainsupportnetwork.org/education/lewy-body-dementia/

Denise’s note:  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, please attend Brain Support Network’s LBD caregiver-only support group meetings!  We just met last Sunday.  Our next meeting is in June.  Email Robin Riddle to get on the meeting reminder email list.

FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA

She spoke about Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) from time stamp 31:29 until her summary at 46:43.  FTD is often misdiagnosed for 10-14 years and is the most difficult to care for, because of youth and psychiatric issues.

SUMMARY

Summary:
* As diagnostic specificity improves, non-Alzheimer’s dementias will be diagnosed more frequently.
* A “one-side-fits-all” care program will not meet the needs of people with non-Alzheimer dementias.  They differ in terms of symptom presentation, behavioral responses, and ability to tolerate medications.  [When searching for a day program or caregivers for your family member with a non-Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis, interviewing for their understanding of they type of dementia your family has, and their preparedness in caring for that type of dementia, is critical in finding the right program or caregiver.]
* Families and care providers are desperate for answers, ongoing support, and to seek out others suffering from similar conditions.
* Interdisciplinary care and research is essential for humane approaches to these vexing conditions.

MS. WILSON SPEAKS…

Rebekkah Wilson, MSW spoke next at time stamp 46:29

Beyond Alzheimer’s Disease, Impact on the Individual/Family System:
* Challenges with diagnosis
* Symptoms generally less recognized/understood
* Caregiver burden
* Younger onset considerations
* Community resources and considerations
— Legal
— Financial
— Emotional support
— Care options

Psychosocial Impact – Diagnosis
* Misdiagnoses common
— in FTD as late onset mental health issues (bi-polar), or marital problems
— in LBD when initial presentation is non-motor symptoms
* Rearview mirror clearer; but by then there are consequences of actions taken prior to diagnosis
— unnecessary treatments, or surgery
— impulse control issues in FTD can result in overspending of college & retirement funds, or loss of jobs & stability
* Sense of relief to get diagnosis
— Negative experiences prior to diagnosis
— Empowerment through learning about diagnosis (now I know what I’m dealing with)
* Present and future support – Programs are set up on an Alzheimers disease model.  Some areas of the country are more progressive and have more support groups and day programs/caregivers for non-Alzheimer’s dementia.

Psychosocial Impact – Symptoms
* Less recognized because Alzheimer’s disease is everyone’s reference point
– Memory may not be impacted, so dementia not recognized and symptoms not addressed
* Safety considerations due to brain changes (driving, wandering, judgement)
* Fluctuations in mental status misinterpreted (esp. in young patients misdiagnosed as bi-polar, marital discord, OCD, etc.)
* hallucinations/REM
* Impact of FTD symptoms
– Legal
– Financial
– Employment
– Social

Psychosocial Impact – Caregiver Burden
* Nature of Symptoms
— FTD – especially behavior and language changes
— LBD – especially cognitive fluctuations (can be moment to moment, rather than good morning & bad afternoon)
* High caregiver stress
* Isolation due to being a ‘rare’ diagnosis (need to find a support group with the same non-Alzheimer’s diagnosis)
* Age of onset impacts normalization (especially FTD & young onset Alzheimer’s)
— Expect memory and cognitive changes in older adults.
Younger people with dementia are misdiagnosed with mental health issues or arrested for unruly public behavior.
— Parents providing care for person with dementia (PWD)
— Care for PWD while caring for kids in household (sandwich generation)
* Ambiguous loss / anticipatory grief

Psychosocial Impact – Young Onset
* Developmental stage of the family
— Young kids at home, frequently in young onset families.
— Aging parents caring for their children with young onset dementias.
* Concerns about genetics
* Career and employment considerations
* Financial implications – primary caregiver may now have to work (maybe more than one job, depending on their skill set.)
* Challenges finding services because they are not trained to care for non-Alzheimer’s dementia

Legal and Financial Considerations
* Legal planning documents (maybe guardianship or conservatorship)
— Power of Attorney for Healthcare
— Power of Attorney for Finances
— Living Will
* Employment Laws
* Early Onset diagnosis impacts income and insurance (pre-Medicare age)
* Medicare
* Social Security Disability
* Social Security Compassionate Allowance to expedite benefits
* Additional option for financing care

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a way to expedite the processing of SSDI and SSI disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability.  It is not a separate program from SSA’s two disability programs, SSDI and SSI.

There is no special application or form that is unique to the CAL initiative.  Individuals with a CAL condition apply for benefits using the standard SSA process for filing claims for SSDI, SSI or both SSDI and SSI benefits.  SSA will expedite the applications of those with a CAL condition.  Applications for disability may be filed online, in the local field office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213.  To learn more about the CAL initiative, see:

www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/

Community Resources and Services
* Support Groups for both caregiver AND the person with a diagnosis
* Care models in programs, including day facilities and nursing facilities are based on Alzheimers, but expanding.
* Families are using online information & medical community to educate care models.
* Limited experience and understanding of non-Alzheimer’s dementia

Care Planning
* Establishing the care team (Neurologist, PT, OT, Pharmacist, speech therapist, and the primary caregiver.)
* Determining goals for care team, based on location of care (home or facility) (comfort & safety).  Focusing on the primary goal(s) helps to make decisions.  For example, when choosing a care facility for someone with LBD, focusing on fall prevention as the primary goal may eliminate several options.  Narrowing the number of choices makes the decision easier.
* Support for the person with the diagnosis
* Knowledge and support of the care partners
– Family/friends
– Professionals

Challenges with Home & Community Based Care in Non-Alzheimer’s dementias
* Facility care for FTD
* Cognitive fluctuations as a challenge for care in LBD
* Hospice / palliative care & denials of admission because guidelines are based on Alzheimer’s

Best Practices for Home & Community Based Care
* Recognize care for non-Alzheimer’s dementias is different than Alzheimer’s
* Structure very important
* “Failure free,” low demand engagement
* Group versus individual activities (For Alzheimer’s people, group activities work well, while for young onset individual and non-Alzheimer’s dementias, independent activities work better)
* Recognize preferences may differ from other residents if younger
* Risky or impulsive behavior may increase safety concerns.

MS. HALL SPEAKS…

Sharon Hall spoke last about being a family caregiver of two types of dementia simultaneously at time stamp 1:07:47

Cares for both her 90+-year-old mother with vascular dementia and her husband with bvFTD – yikes!

Feels most difficult aspects is changing role from daughter/wife to caregiver through ambiguous loss process.

Challenging to early onset patient in finding long-term care, especially day programs.  Her husband is physically robust so people don’t expect his behavior to be dementia, but think he’s joking or has mental illness.  Day programs don’t have activities he’s interested in.

Physical contact is ok for people with Alzheimer’s, but if you touch someone with FTD they WILL touch you back.  They also say inappropriate things.  She tried handing out cards excusing his behavior, but she finds talking with people about it, even including her husband in that conversation, educates people better.  Sometimes, they don’t believe her.

Meds are not the only way to manage behavior, especially in FTD, and can make things worse.  It is better to be their advocate and understand how to manage behavior without it.  You can’t expect someone with dementia to follow standard rules of behavior.  You have to go with whatever they’re doing, as long as it’s not dangerous or too disruptive.

Being their advocate, especially in understanding where difficult behaviors come from, is key.  Employing their assistance in as many activities of daily living as they can manage, throughout the day but including rest periods, is the best way to minimize behavior problems.  It occupies their attention, keeps them out of trouble and from being bored, and makes them feel they still are useful members of the family and society.

There’s a crazy financial burden with young onset dementia families, because they had to stop working early so they qualify for less SSI than people who retire later.  Especially people with FTD, because of spending compulsions, can spend through college and retirement savings so must be taken off all financial accounts as soon as diagnosis is made.

FTD has unusual eating habits, crave carbs, etc.  Hygiene can be an issue, but nobody ever dies from not taking a shower.  Forcing participation in conventional hygiene and other tasks on someone with non-Alzheimer’s dementias can bring on unwanted behaviors.  Understanding what you’re dealing with and working with them is the key.  If it’s not dangerous, let them do what they want to do.

QUESTION AND ANSWER

Q&A at time stamp 1:16

Sharon, what techniques work best to manage behaviors.
I apologize to him if she sees she’s done something to trigger a behavior.  Being on his side diminishes the behavior.

Rebekkah, can a healthcare surrogate with no family member present, place a dementia patient in assisted living or LTC if its in their best interest?
A medical decision maker can

Dr. Hall, do you have suggestions for alternatives when access to site services is a challenge?
Psychiatric services, but start with medical and neurological workup.

Dr. Lantz, FTD has been connected with concussion or head trauma?
No (listen for longer answer)

Dr. Hall, are sensory used to treat patients with challenging behaviors arising from dementia?
Sensory rooms are used to treat dementia.  (listen for longer answer)

Dr. Lantz, In early FTD what techniques do we use for early treatment and diagnosis?
monitor and evaluate symptoms and mitigate problems.  PET scan.  Team diagnosis approach, especially behavioral neurology training will better recognize FTD.

What do any of you know about a web based tool called WE Care Advisor geared to help family caregivers?
Nobody has heard of it.

You all stress the importance of interdisciplinary team supporting dementia and caregivers.  Non-medical support?
Area Agency on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, access to social services and medical help, as well.
FTD & LBD have national resources but those 2 have local resources.
Join a support group to share resources, moderators educate on resources in these groups.

Dementia friendly communities?  How do I find one?
They look at developing activities and resources places for people with dementia, including painting, coffee shops with dementia-firendly hours.  Locations are based on minimal stimulations, etc.  People with FTD have a harder time participating because their dementia peers with other diagnosis can’t communicate with them well.  Your local newspaper may have done an article on the opening of one in your area to help you find one near you.

“Dementia caregivers: Learning to live in your loved one’s reality” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

This Philadelphia Inquirer article is a report on an Alzheimer’s caregiver conference in Valley Forge.  The keynote speaker was Tam Cummings, a gerontologist from Texas.  Ms. Cummings and other speakers made several points:

* “Cummings urged family members to ask their doctors more questions — as many questions as they might ask if the diagnosis were cancer.  Knowing more, she said, may help them understand and cope with the memory lapses, confusion, delusions, falls, depression, and stubbornness that often accompany dementia.”

* “A recurring theme: People with dementia have brain damage that limits what they can do and how they can think.  It’s those around them who have to change. … If people with dementia are being obstinate or aggressive, it’s up to caregivers to try to figure out whether there is an explanation that their loved one can no longer communicate: Are they in pain? Are they afraid? Were the instructions too complicated? Have perceptual changes made the environment look dangerous to them?”

* “Cummings told the crowd that ‘your loved one’s reality is your reality.'”

This short article is worth reading.  Here’s a link to it:

www.philly.com/philly/health/Dementia-caregivers-Learning-to-live-in-your-loved-ones-reality-alzheimers-association.html

Dementia caregivers: Learning to live in your loved one’s reality
Updated: April 26, 2017 — 3:01 am EDT
by Stacey Burling, Staff Writer
Philadelphia Inquirer

Robin