Academies report: Toward improved dementia care
Updated: May 16
In February of this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a compelling report that provides a blueprint to improve dementia care and guide future research into the disease. “Meeting the Challenge of Caring for Persons Living with Dementia and Their Care partners and Caregivers: A Way Forward” is a welcome voice in the discussion about how best to advance the current body of evidence on dementia care.
As we consider our residents and the care we provide at Desert Haven in Glendale and Apollo Residential in Phoenix, we welcome the National Academies report; it could not be more timely, and is the result of “a widely shared desire to avoid dreading living to old age rather than approaching a long life as a reward for a life well-lived.”
The report, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, addresses the critically important issue of how to move beyond controlling the behavior of dementia patients and also touches upon remedies for oft-times limiting administrative regulations. The report suggests a deeper, more meaningful focus on “personhood and improving the well-being of both persons who develop dementia and their care partners and caregivers.”
This is an important pivot. Our teams in Glendale and Phoenix are ahead of the curve. In our dedication to enriching the lives of our seniors, we have made this a critical ingredient in our professional services and our efforts to provide an improved experience for our residents. As we focus on care and kindness that ensures a welcoming and enriching environment for all who entrust us with their well-being, the recommendations and insight provided by the recent NASEM report serve as guideposts for our continued excellence, while also providing evidence-based signs of hope for the future of dementia care.
Particularly rewarding, as we read within the report, is NASEM’s Guiding Principles for Dementia Care, Services and Supports. Each of the six principles – person-centeredness, promotion of well-being, respect and dignity, justice, inclusivity, and accessibility and affordability – has been a focal point of our care and a cornerstone of our philosophy since our beginning two decades ago. Furthermore, reading from the report’s core components of care, services and supports, it is gratifying to confirm our methodologies – engrained in our ministration for some 20 years – are aligned with NASEM’s framework for ideal dementia care. Among those are the assessment of symptoms to inform planning and delivering care; support in activities of daily living; communication and collaboration; coordination of long-term services and supports, and community-based services and supports; and a supportive and safe environment.
For our valued industry peers and associates, the recent NASEM report is important food for thought and a clarion call for not only patient-oriented reflection but for meaningful action in research and care. Dr. Eric B. Larson is the chair of the Committee on Care Interventions for Individuals with Dementia and Their Caregivers, the author of the report. Says Larson, using the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic as an exemplar, “(T)he remarkable speed at which public science operated to develop vaccines and treatments, fueled by rapid increased funding for research and development, demonstrates just how valuable scientific research can be in advancing personal and public health.”
As dementia research enters an epoch of the expanded, higher-quality research sought by the National Academies, the report says, it consequently “provides a path forward for building a more robust evidence base by using rigorous, cutting-edge methods that are inclusive, equitable and yield critical information for real-world implementation. This information can be employed throughout the field by early-career researchers and others who want to harness new approaches to better support persons living with dementia and their care partners and caregivers in living as well as possible.”
We will continue – because we must – to do our part to make a meaningful and impactful difference in the lives of our residents, their families and their caregivers. And we will strive to take our own next step for the benefit of those we serve.
About the Authors
Dr. Christopher Zambakari, BS, MBA, MIS, LP.D.
Dr. Zambakari is the owner and operator of Desert Haven Home Care in Phoenix and Apollo Assisted Living in Glendale. He provides direction and oversight to ensure Care Facilities provide the highest levels of customized care, administered by respectful licensed medical and caregiving professionals.
Nathalia Zambakari, Board Certified AGACNP-BC
Nathalia is a board-certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and a licensed medical professional responsible for short-term care patients suffering from severe conditions. As part of our care team, Nathalia reviews the medical records of incoming residents, helping us to manage patient regimens and performing caregiver education to assure that we are providing the best care possible for our residents.