Innovative Interventions to Reduce Dementia Caregiver Distress: A Clinical Guide

By David W. Coon; Dolores Gallagher-Thompson et al. | Go to book overview

8
Primary Care: Partnering
With Health Care Providers

Robert Burns, Linda Nichols, Jennifer Martindale-Adams, David W. Coon, Katie Maslow, and John Selstad


PRIMARY CARE AND FAMILY CAREGIVING

A primary-care provider, often the family physician, is usually the first health care professional to whom Alzheimer's patients and caregivers turn. However, the roles of physicians and primary care in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) are not always clear. In the past 3 years, at least nine separate consensus statements and practice guidelines have emphasized the importance of physicians in the treatment of ADRD patients. Consensus statements and practice guidelines have been issued by several medical associations and consensus groups, including the American Medical Association ([AMA], 1999), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (1997), the Alzheimer's Disease Managed Care Advisory Council (Fillit, Knopman, Cummings, & Appel, 1999a, 1999b), and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the Alzheimer's Association, and the American Geriatrics Society (Small et al., 1997). The primary focus of these statements and guidelines ranges from diagnosis to management, but all documents also include the importance of the family caregiver. In addition, the American Medical Association has stressed the link between family caregivers, the patient, and the primary care physician across time and health care settings (AMA, 1993). Despite these official endorsements of the role of physicians in working with caregivers, there is a dearth of physician-

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