Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called Alzheimer’s Dementia, is a progressive and irreversible neurological disorder that causes loss of memory and cognitive function. Symptoms begin gradually, with signs that are easily attributed to other factors such as misplacing items, forgetting appointments or getting lost in a familiar area. The disease may actually begin occurring in the fifties and sixties, but symptoms may not present until the client is in their eighties or nineties. Studies have shown that clients who reside in smaller living spaces, avoid social interaction or rarely leave their homes are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. Since Alzheimer’s is an irreversible disease, treatment is geared toward management of symptoms and promoting support and the best quality of life possible.
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease should not be applied when symptoms began following a stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is another known neurological disorder or when client is being treated with medications for other neurological disorders that would produce similar symptoms. The following characteristics must be met for diagnosis:
Client will maintain optimal level of independent or assisted functioning. Client will remain free from injury. Client will have minimal wandering behaviors. Client’s family will have adequate resources and support for coping with client’s disease.
Get a baseline for interventions and monitor progression of disease
Help determine necessary interventions and progression of disease.
Clients in the earlier stages who are still able to understand that they are losing their sense of reality may become depressed and withdrawn.
Many organic factors may contribute to an increase in client’s confusion or changes in mental status. It is important not to ignore them, since it could be related to infection or dehydration, which is treatable.
Helps increase the possibility of the client understanding what is being communicated. Repeating the name helps the client maintain a sense of self-identity.
Progressively reducing the client’s need for decision making helps reduce frustration and stress.
Clients often have difficulty distinguishing fiction from reality and may cause aggressive or violent behaviors or unwarranted fears.
As the disease progresses, clients have more difficulty communicating verbally. Anticipating needs helps reduce stress and prevent frustration and anxiety.
Helps client feel safer and reassured of their surroundings. Promotes awareness of environment.
This helps to keep the mind active, and incorporate a sense of accomplishment. Make sure the activity is not sp challenging so as to cause frustration or stress.
Helps the client maintain an awareness of time of day and offers a sense of security and reality.
Advanced stages of the disease may diminish the client’s ability to perform simple tasks like dressing, bathing, combing hair and feeding. Provide whatever assistance the client needs to maintain a sense of dignity.
Helps prevent clients from feeling isolated or alone. Gives them an opportunity to share stories or memories and maintain or develop social relationships. Forced interaction may cause aggression or inappropriate behaviors.
Clients may wander because they are thirsty or hungry, or are looking for a bathroom. Assess needs and provide assistance or direction within a safe environment.
Help families cope and be prepared for the changes in their loved one.
Help families adapt to the needs of the clients.
Help reduce stress and anxiety that may be transferred to the client.
Some medications may be given regularly for management of memory loss and delay progression of the disease.
Other medications may be given PRN to treat behaviors and symptoms such as depression, anxiety or loss of appetite.
Promote safety and prevent injury.
For more information, visit www.nrsng.com/cornell
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