CERRITOS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yvonne Eisner of southern California shed a lot of tears when caring for her mother who was suffering from dementia. But things got a lot better, she said, when she was referred to CareMore’s Brain Health Program.
Eisner’s mother was a long-time member of CareMore, a southern California company that provides care to more than 80,000 people through its health plans. CareMore specializes in addressing frailty in senior adults. The company piloted a Brain Health Program to address the needs of patients like Eisner’s mother who have signs of dementia.
Eisner said CareMore’s program gave her the education she needed to keep her mother at home. Her mother died there, rather than in a nursing home, which is how she wanted it. “The clinic not only treated my mother but in a sense treated me, ensuring I would be able to cope and provide her the care she needed,” recalled Eisner, who recently testified before a congressional committee about her experience. “Without this program my mother would have spent her last year or years living with and being cared for by strangers.”
Before she was referred to the program, Eisner feels that her lack of information about the disease and denial of her mother’s condition resulted in her mother making decisions regarding her health that may have been detrimental and or unnecessary. Disruptive and sometimes painful procedures might have been avoided had she been better educated about dementia. “I was not aware she was not processing the information correctly to make the right decisions for herself,” she said, “and it resulted in some traumatic situations.”
Unfortunately, Eisner’s story is not unique, according to Dr. James S Pratty, senior medical officer for behavioral health and psychiatry at CareMore. About 5.3 million Americans suffer from symptoms of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Eisner’s story is especially poignant in June, which is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a time to honor those with the disease.
“Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s are profoundly mismanaged,” Pratty said. “After some struggle, they are given diagnoses — but little else in terms of guidance and support. This results in costly and unhelpful diagnostic workups, and countless avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, the patient often suffers from profound feelings of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness.”
Dr. Pratty and his team designed a model of care for those with brain health issues. It starts with identifying brain health patients early and assigning them to a multidisciplinary team that takes a broad view of their illness, including providing them with information on falls prevention, medication safety and adherence, legal documentation and nutrition. Caregivers are included in the process. Among other things, they are trained on how to effectively respond to symptoms of the disease.
According to early results, CareMore’s Brain Health Program reduced emergency room visits, hospitalizations and falls. Nearly two-thirds of caregivers assumed an active role in monitoring medication for their loved one and 94 percent said they felt the program improved their understanding of dementia as well as their ability to provide better care. CareMore is in the process of scaling the program system-wide.
“Over time, scientific breakthroughs will enable us to identify and treat patients with dementia and other forms cognitive decline in ways we never imagined before,” Pratty said. “Until that day, we need better systems of care that address the holistic needs of patients and their families. If our early experience is any indication, these systems will deliver better clinical outcomes — and, more importantly, better support for patients and families.”
For more information about CareMore, visit www.caremore.com.
CareMore Health System, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anthem, is the parent company of multiple health plans that operate under three federally approved Medicare Advantage contracts (“CareMore Health Plan subsidiaries”). The CareMore Health Plan subsidiaries serve a total of more than 80,000 Medicare members throughout Southern California, Northern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. CareMore specializes in health care programs supporting Medicare beneficiaries from the healthy aging to the chronically ill and/or frail. Learn more at www.caremore.com.