Clinical features and multidisciplinary approaches to dementia care
Jacob HG Grand¹, Sienna Caspar², Stuart WS MacDonald1
1Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada; 2Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Abstract: Dementia is a clinical syndrome of widespread progressive deterioration of cognitive abilities and normal daily functioning. These cognitive and behavioral impairments pose considerable challenges to individuals with dementia, along with their family members and caregivers. Four primary dementia classifications have been defined according to clinical and research criteria: 1) Alzheimer’s disease; 2) vascular dementias; 3) frontotemporal dementias; and 4) dementia with Lewy bodies/Parkinson’s disease dementia. The cumulative efforts of multidisciplinary healthcare teams have advanced our understanding of dementia beyond basic descriptions, towards a more complete elucidation of risk factors, clinical symptoms, and neuropathological correlates. The characterization of disease subtypes has facilitated targeted management strategies, advanced treatments, and symptomatic care for individuals affected by dementia. This review briefly summarizes the current state of knowledge and directions of dementia research and clinical practice. We provide a description of the risk factors, clinical presentation, and differential diagnosis of dementia. A summary of multidisciplinary team approaches to dementia care is outlined, including management strategies for the treatment of cognitive impairments, functional deficits, and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. The needs of individuals with dementia are extensive, often requiring care beyond traditional bounds of medical practice, including pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic management interventions. Finally, advanced research on the early prodromal phase of dementia is reviewed, with a focus on change-point models, trajectories of cognitive change, and threshold models of pathological burden. Future research goals are outlined, with a call to action for social policy initiatives that promote preventive lifestyle behaviors, and healthcare programs that will support the growing number of individuals affected by dementia.
Keywords: dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, clinical features, multidisciplinary care, BPSD, prodromal dementia
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