DICE approach helps curb adverse behaviors associated with dementia

A group of experts have found a new non-medication approach to lessen the more serious symptoms associated with dementia. 

The acronym DICE is what the panel has decided to name this new method, according to a new paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. DICE stands for describe, investigate, create and evaluate. This monumental way to assess dementia has been shown to reduce a number of the adverse behavioral signs associated with the disease. As a result of the success of the new approach, the federal agency that runs Medicare has made DICE an official part of their toolkit in order to reduce the need for medication.

"Often more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia," said Helen Kales, head of the U-M Program for Positive Aging. "These symptoms are experienced almost universally, across dementia stages and causes. Sadly, these symptoms are often associated with poor outcomes including early nursing home placement, hospital stays, caregiver stress and depression, and reduced caregiver employment."

The DICE method provides doctors with an alternative option than simply prescribing medication to those with dementia. Authors suggest that doctors only prescribe medication after the patient and caregiver have made efforts to intervene with DICE, unless they have severe depression, psychosis or aggression, in which case medication is recommended. 

"Innovative approaches are needed to support and train the front-line providers for the burgeoning older population with behavioral symptoms of dementia," Kales said. "We believe that the DICE approach offers clinicians an evidence-informed structured clinical reasoning process that can be integrated into diverse practice settings."

Dementia prevalent in the U.S.
While the DICE approach looks to help those suffering from dementia, the disease is still having a significant impact on America's seniors. 

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are suffering from dementia, which is also the sixth leading cause of death. At this rate, a person is being diagnosed with dementia every 67 seconds. 

With such a large amount of seniors suffering from dementia, it's important as ever to maintain a health lifestyle to curb the impact of the disease or hopefully avoid it altogether. 

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