Different family and friends lean out of their frames in support of a woman in the center frame.

What Is Dementia-Informed Care?

Dementia impacts nearly 50 million people worldwide. People living with dementia may have complex care needs.1,2

The focus in average care might be on schedules or organization. Dementia-informed care – also called patient-centered care – takes a different approach. It focuses on the needs of the individual.1,2

What is patient-centered care for people with dementia?

Patient-centered care or dementia-informed care is built around each person's needs. This style of care depends on knowing the person with dementia on a personal level. The core of patient-centered care is the person. This kind of care takes into account who the person is and what their values are.1

Key components of patient-centered care include:1,2

  1. Respecting and valuing the person with dementia.
  2. Treating people as individuals with unique needs. For example, picking activities that fit the interests of the person with dementia.
  3. Trying to view the world the same way as the person with dementia. This shows respect for their feelings, needs, and behavior.
  4. Building a positive social environment and sense of community. This can help people with dementia build meaningful relationships.

How can patient-centered care help people with dementia?

Patient-centered care can help people with dementia whose needs are not always obvious. For example, some people with dementia can be lonely. Addressing their loneliness may help manage symptoms or behavior issues.1,2

Research on patient-centered care shows better outcomes for the person with dementia. Studies on care facilities found that patient-centered care improved the quality of life for people with dementia. It also lowered rates of depression. Another study found that activities chosen to match the person's interests had more benefits.1,2

How can you use patient-centered care?

It takes more time and effort to provide patient-centered care. So, it can be difficult to use, especially in care facilities where staff may be overworked. But the care options may be simple. Some examples include:1

  • For someone who was very independent might value making decisions related to their care.
  • A person might have spent their life working a late schedule where they slept in later. Instead of making them keep the care center's schedule, they can stay on the schedule they are used to.
  • Some people love music and play instruments. Allowing them to listen to music or play their instrument can be a helpful activity.
  • Some people loved their gardens and had to leave them when they entered a care facility. They could keep a plant or books about plants in their room. They might use scented products that smell like their favorite plants.

If you are a caregiver, you can implement patient-centered care. It may help to start by thinking about the person’s interests or personality. Then decide how to work that into their daily care. If they are in a care facility, try talking with the staff.1-3

You may also want to make a patient-centered plan for emergencies. For example, the person may have certain preferences about their emergency medical care. Following these preferences can lower the person's stress in an emergency. This helps improve outcomes.1-3

These tactics are not very expensive or time-consuming. But they give the person with dementia care that is focused on their needs and wants. This helps improve quality of life.1,2

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