The second edition of Dementia Beyond Drugs, written by G. Allen Power, M.D., is a useful read for caregivers of people with dementia. In the book, Dr. Power describes how modern treatment approaches fail to improve the lives of patients. He explains why the current paradigm is inadequate and suggests a better one focusing on patient experience. In the last section of the book, he suggests how to solve problems without medication and institutionalization.
Part 1: Paradigms and Problems
Dr. Power starts by explaining how current dementia treatment focuses on identifying and lessening the impact of cognitive defects. Patients are “broken” and need treatment to fix specific declines observed by doctors, often in an institutional setting. As a result, doctors use powerful psychotropic drugs to make their patients more manageable. Dr. Power argues that this approach does little to improve life quality for patients with dementia. He claims using minimal medication and focusing on capacities they still have is a more humane approach.
Part 2: Shifts
Dr. Power lays out a new model for approaching dementia in the second part of the book. In this model, caregivers and doctors should focus on improving patient well-being. He suggests that instead of trying to fix specific cognitive deficits, they should focus on the way deficits affect patient well-being. Quality of life for dementia patients is better when they have opportunities to improve well-being with ways besides medication. He recommends using an experiential approach that encourages patients to grow and develop based on their strengths.
Part 3: Solutions
In part three, Dr. Power describes how to put his ideas into action. This section covers several solutions to common problems and gives specific examples. His solutions show how to improve patient well-being through methods focusing on what can best enhance their personal experience. At the end of the book, he tells several compelling true stories of the successful use of these methods.
In Dementia Beyond Drugs, Dr. Power provides valuable insights that caregivers can use to transform how they help people with dementia. He identifies problems with traditional approaches, such as relying too much on medication and institutionalization. By reading this book, caregivers will discover new ways to approach dementia treatment, ones that allow patients to live more meaningful lives.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!