The New Model of Dementia Care for Our Community

History tells us that it’s not unusual for verified new ideas for best medical care can take up to 17 years or longer to make its way into the every-day practice of America’s physicians and other clinicians.  As if this weren’t bad enough, those brave doctors and others pioneering such new ideas absorbed severe and swift negative pushback from their peers in medicine.  Unfortunately, this appears to be so for dementia care in America too.  Dr. Dale Bredesen of UCLA and the Buck Institute in California has been successfully helping hundreds of people living with dementia symptoms with a mostly drug-free diagnostic and treatment protocol of lifestyle changes and dementia risk reduction management.  In spite of resistance among colleagues, several other specialty centers and brave individual clinicians have now taken up the cause around the country to offer this more hopeful model of dementia care that finally and credibly proclaims that, “Yes, there’s lots we can do”.  This, instead of the standard outmoded message that families have been horrified to hear for many years, “There’s nothing we can do, come back in a year”.  

Our Central Minnesota Dementia Community Action Network (D-CAN) will promote adoption and engagement of this patient-centered, new model of dementia care to achieve our mission to improve access to quality dementia care in our community.  We will collaborate with area primary care and specialty clinicians to treat dementia with less drugs and more risk assessment, reduction and management.  Our research has turned up over 100 dementia risk factors to consider for prevention or treatment.  The United Kingdom’s respected Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention recently stated that even if you just fix 12 of these risk factors, then up to 40% of dementia may be preventable! Dr. Bredeson believes that if all risks are checked for and well-managed, then a much higher per centage of dementia will be preventable.  Many (but not all) of his patients have had reversal of dementia symptoms lasting several years so far.  This protocol of course requires a big effort for persons living with dementia and their care partners, but hey, “there’s lots we can do” sounds so much better.