Posted on January 4, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

Letting Alzheimer’s patients do what they want, within reason, has proven to be a successful treatment strategy for a Phoenix nursing home, according to The New York Times.

The Times on Saturday did a Page One story, with the headline “Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Doses of Chocolate,” about the Beatitudes nursing home.

Beatitudes follows the relatively new philosophy of patient-centered care for those with Alzheimer’s: In other words, acquiescing to their needs and wants, even if they are out of the norm. There is also an emphasis on preserving the Alzheimer’s patient’s dignity and privacy in patient-centered care.

For example, Alzheimer’s patient Margaret Nance, 96, is permitted to get up and go to sleep whenever she wants to. And why should she have to conform to a schedule set by a nursing home?

And as  The Times points out, at Beatitudes Nance is allowed to eat what she wants, “including unlimited chocolate,” which a Beatitudes official says is “better than Xanax.”

Letting treatment conform to those with Alzheimer’s, rather than try to force them to follow arbitrary rules like getting up at 7 a.m. every morning, is meant to give those with the dreaded disease a sense of control and a positive emotional experience.

Since there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is now an increased focus on improving their caretaking, and making caretakers center on the wants and requests of those with this disease. The idea is to lift the moods, and jog the memories, of these patients.

For example, in order to figure ou the best behavior management for a particular resident, nursing-home staff will do research to find out what that Alzheimer’s patient used to enjoy doing before getting the illness, and then duplicate that activity at the facility. This can help refresh the patient’s memory, or spark the same pleasant emotions that the activity used to for that patient.

Letting an Alzheimer’s patient eat the foods he or she enjoys, such as chocolate, improves his or her mood, acting as a comfort.

And instead of automatically putting residents in diapers, at Beatitudes staff tries to instead have the residents use the regular toilet.

At  Beatitudes, the philosophy is also to try to take patients off antipsychotic drugs.

Until there is a cure for Alzheimer’s, the Beatitudes approach of patient-centered care seems to be the ticket for improving life for those stricken by this disease.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447