Drug-free dementia treatment a model

An Alzheimer’s patient in a Waterville nursing home improves markedly without prescribed medication

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, Morning Sentinel, Maine/New England

Waterville – When Vicki Dyer became the program administrator for the newly opened 32-bed dementia ward at Lakewood nursing home in 2006, she wasn’t happy with the amount of suffering she saw. As in many nursing homes, residents who were disoriented, frightened and frustrated by their inability to recognize people or surroundings and became difficult to handle were medicated as a way of calming them. It’s a situation that frequently plays out in nursing homes which care for some of the 25,000 Maine residents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Lakewood achieves its success by talking candidly with families and doctors in an effort to try an environmental approach to resident care. Resident Pauline Ellis took part in the new treatment model and now has a more positive outlook on the workers who have undergone sensitivity training to care for her. Pauline also has a more positive outlook on life now that she is off medication.