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.
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!