Eldercare Leaders Cite Need for Individualized Care for Alzheimer’s Patients at SeniorBridge Professional Advisory Board Meeting
(NEW YORK, NY) October 18th, 2005
— Renowned experts in the field of aging addressed the latest developments in Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of more individualized research, treatment and care at an October 18th meeting held by SeniorBridge, a national provider of eldercare services.
“While there have been numerous medical advances to further the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, we are just at the infancy of understanding how to treat those affected,” said Claudia Fine, Executive Vice President, Chief Professional Officer and Clinical Program Director for SeniorBridge. “Alzheimer’s is not a generic disease, and there is no ‘miracle drug’ that can cure symptoms. The best treatment right now is care that will maintain a decent quality of life for the person affected, as well as their family.”
Experts speaking at the October 18th meeting are members of SeniorBridge’s Professional Advisory Board.
Experts noted that the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t lend itself to a pre-packaged solution, and that the best treatment is typically when people have some level of control, choices and, ideally, professional oversight. “It is helpful to think of Alzheimer’s in terms of three stages, although there are many staging approaches to the disease. However, symptoms don’t necessarily have a linear progression like other diseases. So it’s important to have treatment programs that are flexible, address the personal issues patients are experiencing and that also involve the family, since it has a tremendous impact on loved ones as well,” said Dr. Peter Rabins, a member of SeniorBridge’s Professional Advisory Board and co-author of The 36-Hour Day, a book about Alzheimer’s disease.
“People hear the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and automatically think ‘nursing home’ or ‘assisted living’ are the only options for care. However, adult day centers or comprehensive in-home care, where compassion and quality of care can be more customized, are excellent treatment options for a patient - and can be cost-effective as well,” said Dr. Burton Reifler, a member of SeniorBridge’s Professional Advisory Board and Professor of Psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “In addition, many Alzheimer’s patients find it reassuring to be able to stay at home when so much else is changing.”
Fear is another major factor associated with Alzheimer’s that was discussed during the SeniorBridge meeting.
“Twenty years ago, medical books barely mentioned Alzheimer’s - what was once a strange, rare and frightening disease is now more common, predictable and more manageable. What hasn’t changed fast enough is society’s ability to keep up with the change,” said Dr. Howard Fillit, who spoke at SeniorBridge’s meeting and is the founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Aging. “It’s important to have someone that will walk the patient and their loved ones through the changes that are occurring, what to expect and how to handle the situation so that everyone feels more in control of a very complicated disease.”
Since Alzheimer’s often hits later in life, many of those affected have other common health conditions that come with age - such as osteoarthritis or heart conditions - that need to be treated alongside their cognitive impairment, dramatically increasing the level of complexity.
“There are often several different physicians taking care of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. While every doctor has the patient’s best interests in mind, you have to remember that each doctor has an area of focus, such as congestive heart failure,” said Dr. Jason Karlawish, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Education and Information Transfer core, and a member of SeniorBridge’s Professional Advisory Board. “This complexity of medical problems and the number of physicians mean it is especially critical that persons with Alzheimer’s disease have a designated coordinator for medical and treatment information, and who will ask the right questions on the patient’s behalf to ensure that all the various tests and treatments fit together.”
About the SeniorBridge Professional Advisory Board
The Professional Advisory Board guides SeniorBridge in realizing its vision to be the most effective and trusted leader in eldercare, and is comprised of renowned experts in the field of aging. The Board includes Robert N. Butler, M.D., President and CEO of the International Longevity Center-USA; Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Co-Director for The John A. Harford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing; Jason Karlawish, M.D., Associate Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic and the Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Education and Information Transfer Core; Peter Rabins, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Burton Reifler, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Peter J. Whitehouse, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Integrative Studies at Case Western Reserve University.
Founded in 2000, SeniorBridge is a national provider of home-based eldercare services, offering integrated health, financial and social services for the elderly. Our unique, integrated model of care addresses the entire wellbeing of our clients and their families through a comprehensive program of care advice, coordination and advocacy. SeniorBridge offers a broad spectrum of in-home services delivered by a multidisciplinary team of professionals who specialize in aging and chronic care. SeniorBridge has 17 offices throughout the country, and serves clients in 10 states.
For more information, please visit our web site at www.seniorbridge.com