Implementation of advanced practice nurse clinic for management of behavioral symptoms in dementia: A dyadic intervention (innovative practice)

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Behavioral symptoms are common in all types of dementia and often result in significant caregiver stress and illness, institutionalization of the patient, and reduced quality of life for the patient and caregiver. Health care practitioners often lack the expertise or time to adequately assess behavioral symptoms or counsel caregivers about interventions. Our goal was to implement a specialty clinic managed by advanced practice nurses to assess and manage behavioral symptoms associated with dementia. The clinic evaluations consisted of an assessment of the patient by the Nurse Practitioner during the time that the family caregiver(s) was interviewed by the Clinical Nurse Specialist and focused on an assessment of the cognitive and functional abilities of the patient, identification of triggers for the problematic behaviors, and assessment of caregiver coping. We evaluated 66 dyads since implementation in February 2010. The patients were primarily female, Caucasian, 74.3 years of age with Alzheimer's disease. The majority of caregivers were spouses (n=44) followed by adult children (n=20) and then siblings (n=2). Targeted interventions were developed and caregiver counseling, support, and education were an integral part of the consultation and included written information, video instruction, and internet resources. Evaluations indicated caregivers and referring providers found the appointment helpful in managing behavioral symptoms and caregiver stress.

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