An Innovative Approach to Managing Behavioral and Psychological Dementia

The older adult population in long-term care is experiencing significant growth, which includes an increased number of minority admissions. An estimated 48% of long-term care patients are admitted with a diagnosis of dementia | The Journal for Nurse Practitioners

Highlights: 

  • Nurse practitioners are in a key position to provide culturally appropriate care in older adults with BPSD
  • Personalized music is an evidence-based, patient centered intervention to reduce BPSD
  • Regulatory agencies are closely monitoring the management of BPSD in long-term care facilities.
  • Personalized music can be an interdisciplinary approach in the management of BPSD

Patient-centered, culturally appropriate care is critical in the management of dementia and treatment of associated behavior and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). The use of personalized music playlists has shown promise in the interdisciplinary treatment of BPSD. Regulatory agencies are closely monitoring the management of BPSD. Accurate diagnosis and treatment of BPSD is an increasingly important skill for the provider.

Full reference: Long, E.M. (2017) An Innovative Approach to Managing Behavioral and Psychological Dementia. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Vol. 13 (Issue 7) pp. 475-481

Delayed-onset post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in dementia

In this review, Tarun Kuruvilla et al. consider three examples of delayed-onset PTSD and its frequent association, or misdiagnosis, as one of the numerous manifestations of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia | Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry

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Image source: Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry

Dementia sufferers commonly experience non-cognitive symptoms as their disease progresses. These symptoms are often labelled as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) and encompass a broad range of symptoms relating to mood changes such as depression and anxiety, psychosis, and inappropriate behaviours like wandering, shouting and agitation. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common diagnosis amongst working-age adults but it is infrequently diagnosed in the elderly, particularly those with dementia. Previous case reports have published examples of dementia sufferers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms long after the original traumatic event. Despite these examples, little is known about the manifestation of traumatic exposure in the older adult population. We consider whether delayed-onset post-traumatic symptoms in the elderly are being misdiagnosed, instead falling under the umbrella of BPSD. In this article, we attempt to expand on previous work by describing three cases of delayed-onset PTSD associated with the development of dementia. We explore potential biological and psychosocial theories to explain the aetiology of these symptoms with reference to the literature. We end by considering the clinical implications for future practice, including suggestions for improved diagnosis and management.

Full reference: Martinez-Clavera, C. et al. (2017) Delayed-onset post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in dementia. Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. Vol. 21 (no. 03).

Simulated presence therapy for dementia

Abraha, I. et al.

Review question: Can simulated presence therapy (SPT) treat problem behaviours, and improve quality of life for people with dementia?

Study characteristics: We looked for trials which compared SPT to usual care or to another treatment. Ideally, people with dementia should have been randomly allocated to one or other treatment, but we also included trials even if treatment allocation was not strictly random.

We found three trials which met our inclusion criteria. The 144 participants were all living in nursing homes. The majority were women with an average age of over 80 years and severe dementia. The way SPT was administered was different in each trial. All the trials used more than one comparison treatment, which differed between trials. The trials all attempted to measure an effect on agitated behaviours, but used different approaches.

Key findings: Because the trials were so different from each other, we were not able to pool the results. Individually, each trial reported different methods to assess the effect of SPT on behavioural problems and the results varied depending on the method used to measure the outcome.

None of the studies assessed quality of life, effect on daily activities, effects on caregivers, or how likely participants were to drop out of the study.

Read the full review here

Non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioural disturbances

Abraha, I. et al. (2017) Systematic review of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioural disturbances in older patients with dementia. The SENATOR-OnTop series. BMJ Open. 7:e012759

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Objective: To provide an overview of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia (BPSD).

Design: Systematic overview of reviews.

 

Conclusions: A large number of non-pharmacological interventions for BPSD were identified. The majority of the studies had great variation in how the same type of intervention was defined and applied, the follow-up duration, the type of outcome measured, usually with modest sample size. Overall, music therapy and behavioural management techniques were effective for reducing BPSD.

Read the full review here

The management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in the acute general medical hospital

White, N. et al. (2017) International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 32(3) p. 297-305

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Background: The acute hospital is a challenging place for a person with dementia. Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are common and may be exacerbated by the hospital environment. Concerns have been raised about how BPSD are managed in this setting and about over reliance on neuroleptic medication. This study aimed to investigate how BPSD are managed in UK acute hospitals.

Conclusions: Antipsychotic medications and psychosocial interventions were the main methods used to manage BPSD; however, these were not implemented or monitored in a systematic fashion.

Read the full article here

Behavioural and psychological symptoms in patients with dementia, distress for nursing staff and complications in care

Hessler, J. B. et al. (2017) Source Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences (01) p. 1-10

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Little is known about how behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) manifest in the general hospital. The aim was to examine the frequency of BPSD in general hospitals and their associations with nursing staff distress and complications in care.

BPSD are common in older hospital patients with dementia and associated with considerable distress in nursing staff, as well as a wide range of special treatments needs and additional behavioural and medical complications. Management strategies are needed to improve the situation for both patients and hospital staff.

Read the full abstract here

The use of non-pharmacological interventions for dementia behaviours in care homes

Backhouse, T. et al. (2016) Age Ageing. 45(6) pp.856-863

Background: Antipsychotic medications have been used to manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Due to the potential risks associated with these medications for people with dementia, non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs) have been recommended as safer alternatives. However, it is unknown if, or how, these interventions are used in care homes to help people experiencing BPSD.

Conclusions: There is a gap between rhetoric and practice with most NPIs in care homes used as social activities rather than as targeted interventions. If NPIs are to become viable alternatives to antipsychotic medications in care homes, further work is needed to embed them into usual care practices and routines. Training for care-home staff could also enable residents with high needs to gain better access to suitable activities.

Read the full abstract here

The family’s experience of the progression of dementia.

Trine H Clemmensen et. al . The family’s experience and perception of phases and roles in the progression of dementia: An explorative, interview-based study. Dementia. Published online ahead of print, December 6, 2016.

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This paper examines how the relatives of a person with dementia experience challenges in everyday life. A model of phases is developed on the basis of interviews with 14 relatives from eight families. Data were subjected to a thematic content analysis, which found that the progression of dementia – from the perspective of the family – had three phases.

These phases involved small changes in everyday life, adaptations to everyday life, and the loss of everyday life. The analysis further identified the following two archetypes of relatives that develop throughout the progression of dementia: the protective relative and the decisive relative.

The study found that the two types of relatives experience different challenges during the three phases. It is important for health professionals to be familiar with these changes, when they evaluate whether the relatives of a person with dementia require help.

Full paper available here

Managing challenging behavior

Holle, D. et al. Aging & Mental Health. Published online: 3 November 2016

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Objective: Individualized formulation-led interventions offer a promising approach for analyzing and managing challenging behaviors in people with dementia. Little is known about which individualized formulation-led interventions exist and what effects these interventions have on people with dementia and their caregivers. Therefore, the review aims to describe and examine existing interventions and to review their evidence.

Methods: An integrative review of individualized formulation-led interventions for managing challenging behavior in people with dementia was conducted. PUBMED, PsycINFO [EBSCO] and CINAHL [EBSCO] databases were searched between February and April 2014 using key terms related to dementia, challenging behavior and individualized formulation- led interventions. The literature search was limited to German and English publications published from 1995. No limitations were placed on the type of paper, type of study design and stage of disease or setting. 37 relevant papers that met the inclusion criteria were included in this review.

Results: The literature review provided 14 different individualized formulation-led interventions. The effects on people with dementia were diverse, as only half of the studies showed a significant reduction in behaviors compared with the control group. Family caregivers felt less upset about the challenging behavior and more confident in their ability to manage the behavior.

Conclusion: There is a clear need for further research on individualized formulation-led interventions. The results of this review have the potential for developing interventions and for designing methodological robust evaluation studies that take into account the effectiveness of individualized formulation-led interventions on patient and caregiver outcomes.

Read the full article here

Behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia and the challenges for family carers: systematic review

Feast, A. et al. The British Journal of Psychiatry. May 2016, 208 (5) 429-434

Background: Tailored psychosocial interventions can help families to manage behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia (BPSD), but carer responses to their relative’s behaviours contribute to the success of support programmes.

Aims: To understand why some family carers have difficulty in dealing with BPSD, in order to improve the quality of personalised care that is offered.

Method: A systematic review and meta-ethnographic synthesis was conducted of high-quality quantitative and qualitative studies between 1980 and 2012.

Results: We identified 25 high-quality studies and two main reasons for behaviours being reported as challenging by family carers: changes in communication and relationships, resulting in ‘feeling bereft’; and perceptions of transgressions against social norms associated with ‘misunderstandings about behaviour’ in the relative with dementia. The underlying belief that their relative had lost, or would inevitably lose, their identity to dementia was a fundamental reason why family carers experienced behaviour as challenging.

Conclusions: Family carers’ perceptions of BPSD as challenging are associated with a sense of a declining relationship, transgressions against social norms and underlying beliefs that people with dementia inevitably lose their ‘personhood’. Interventions for the management of challenging behaviour in family settings should acknowledge unmet psychological need in family carers.

Read the abstract here