The curious course of Biogen, the Alzheimer’s Association and the FDA to gain approval for a novel infusion drug to treat Alzheimer’s Disease in 2020-21 highlighted the frantic urgency of families with newly diagnosed loved ones and the dangerous profit motives that drive the new drug business and clinical world.
While the Biogen drug won’t make it to wide use for many reasons, it opens the drug development channel for a theoretical treatment of a brain abnormality which is hypothesized to be part of the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Meanwhile, life with dementia including Alzheimer’s, its multiple subtypes and now the increasing burden of multiple other chronic conditions accumulating during the course of dementia make specialized assisted living care more timely and important.
Our clinical initiatives for 2022-23 reflect the challenges of dementia with behavioral disturbances (a diagnostic label reflecting the changes in the subtypes from pleasant confusion to paranoid psychosis and agitation). We’ll devote time and training money to enhance behavioral understanding and interventions for nursing and activities staff, particularly, as well as new skills for all departments’ staff. Pharmacology has its place, too and we’ll add clinicians and professional resources in geriatrics and psychiatry to complement our clinical teams.
Palliative care and hospice services are another combined clinical initiative. Most end-of-life care is provided at Watson which has more physical resources built-in for non-dementia, terminal illness care. Bellamy has expertise for Alzheimer’s end-of-life care and it’s a case-by-case determination which community is most appropriate for the residents’ needs. Special training for staff interested in palliative and hospice care is on-going. Many new families come in speaking the language of “care and comfort.” American medicine produced miraculous results for decades and is learning the language of end-of-life care. The attitude toward death as a medical failing is giving way to an emphasis on quality of life with terminal illnesses.
The Fields initiatives in “hospicitality” are inspiring because they attract bright clinical staff who have extraordinary passion and compassion for the end-of-life experiences of residents and their families.