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D-CARE Study Benefits Patients in Unexpected Ways

Dec 18, 2020, 12:09 PM by SCOA

D-CARE Study Benefits Patients in Unexpected Ways by Sarah Toombs Smith, PhD

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, Texas, are enrolling participants in the Dementia Care (D-CARE) Study to determine the effectiveness of various types of care for dementia. Screening for these patients and their caregivers is extensive, and notes are meticulously kept in the Electronic Medical Records. Sometimes, just the screening can help persons with dementia and their caregivers.

One such story, related by Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Melissa C. Lockhart, PhD, APRN, GNP-BC, involves a person with dementia who was enrolled in the D-CARE Study. The patient had not been able to work or have any income for several years after suffering a stroke and had also experienced a progressive and serious cognitive decline. Since the person with dementia was not yet 65 and had no Medicare or Medicaid coverage, health care had been sporadic. The patient had also been turned down twice for Social Security Disability.

After an extensive screening, the person with dementia and the primary caregiver had a first D-CARE research visit with Dr. Lockhart. Obtaining Social Security Disability and Medicare benefits were identified as the main goals to achieve first. The Social Security Disability Hearing took place recently. Dr. Lockhart participated to the hearing by sharing the data collected by the D-CARE Study screening team. The extensive tests included very specialized questionnaires that measure the patient’s cognition, function, independence, and quality of life, and the caregiver’s health and stress level. Together, they provided a clear picture of the patient’s cognitive and functional decline, indicating that the patient had reached a severe degree of dementia and functional dependence.

The Social Security Attorney and Hearing Officer complimented the detail of the D-CARE screening and assessment. The result was that the patient was finally approved for Social Security Disability, including back pay, and the icing on the cake was that Medicare started immediately. This means that the patient can stay full time under the care of UTMB providers.

Dr. Lockhart and all the UTMB D-CARE research team are thrilled that a pragmatic clinical trial as DCARE can produce such a direct, life-changing impact on the lives of older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

The D-CARE Study is a large multicenter pragmatic randomized clinical trial led nationally by Dr. David Reuben at UCLA and funded by PCORI and NIA. By the end of recruitment, it will include 2150 persons with dementia and their caregivers at four diverse clinical trial sites (UTMB; Baylor Scott & White, TX; Wake Forest, NC; and Geisinger, PA). It compares the effectiveness of 18 months of health system-based dementia care versus community-based dementia care versus usual care. The UTMB D-CARE clinical site principal investigator is Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, who is also the director of the Sealy Center on Aging and the principal investigator of the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. The UTMB D-CARE Team includes Rafael Samper-Ternent, MD, PhD, Roxana Hirst, MSc, Melissa Lockhart, PhD, APRN, GNP-BC, Eloisa Martinez, BS, Sue Minello, NP, Adetutu Odejimi, NP, CMSRN, MSN, FNP-C, Paula Skinkis, MEd, Alice Williams, MS, LBSW, and the Alzheimer’s Association Houston collaborators Ann Marie McDonald, MBA, MEd, Gitzell Perez, LMSW, Kathy Spetter, MS, and Noga Tobias, MPH.

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Are you caring for someone experiencing memory problems?

You may be eligible to participate in a research study to find effective ways of assisting individuals with dementia and the people who care for them.

Call (409) 266-9641 or visit

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