Letter: Improving dementia care

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched an initiative which called for a reduction of the national prevalence rate of anti-psychotic medication use in long-stay nursing home residents with dementia by 15 percent by the end of 2012.

In the United States, 25.2 percent of nursing facility residents receive anti-psychotic medications, according to data from CMS.

Louisiana carries the third highest rate of anti-psychotic drug use in nursing homes at a rate of 29.3 percent.

According to Dr. Alice Bonner in the CMS Division of Nursing Homes, in addition to dangers associated with anti-psychotic medications for the elderly, it also can be expensive to consumers and Medicare; atypical anti-psychotic medications cost more than $13 billion in 2007, nearly 5 percent of all U.S. drug expenditures.

By improving dementia care with person-centered, individualized interventions for behavioral health in nursing homes, CMS hopes to reduce unnecessary anti-psychotic medication use.

Work groups already have been formed by the LEADER (Louisiana Enhancing Aging with Dignity Through Empowerment and Respect), which has formed these collaboratives throughout the state in supporting CMS and working toward reducing Louisiana’s rates, and improving overall dementia care.

Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area is proud to be a collaborative in this project and supports the LEADER Coalition and CMS. Our organization is poised to offer resources and educational opportunities which will assist caregivers and health care professionals in learning and understanding alternative methods to behavioral health in those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia-related disorders.

One such educational opportunity is our 20th annual Education Conference to be held Wednesday at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Our keynote speaker, Dr. G. Alan Power, author of “Dementia Beyond Drugs,” and an adviser with CMS on the initiative, will present alternative therapies and key strategies in reducing the rate of the use of unnecessary anti-psychotic medications in individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Power is sure to enlighten, empower and inspire those who care for others with the disease.

Every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease and in our Baton Rouge area community, well over 15,000 individuals are affected by the disease.

With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, and one in eight of those, statistically, developing Alzheimer’s, this community, this state, this country and the world will be impacted by this disease like no other.

Let’s take steps to help those individuals affected by the disease and the ones who care for them. We can improve dementia care and reduce the use of anti-psychotic medications. A little bit of education can go a long way.

Join us to learn alternative therapies at our 20th annual Educational Conference on March 20. Contact our organization at (225) 334-7494 or www.alzbr.org.

Dana Territo, director of services

Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area

Baton Rouge