As the elderly population continues to grow, so does the number of patients who are diagnosed with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. The adult populations age 65 and older are affected by this disease (Alzheimer’s Association, 2004). There are at least 4.5 million people in the United States suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s with the annual direct and indirect cost of caring for them estimated to be at least $100 billion (Alzheimer’s Association, 2005). By 2030, the Alzheimer’s community will have exceeded the ability to absorb the added cost (Alzheimer’s Association, 2004). The demented and Alzheimer’s population is tremendously significant to me because my mother, who is eighty-three years old, suffers from this neurodegenerative, deteriorating disease which has caused her to lose her short and sometimes long term memory as well as other cognitive abilities. There is currently no cure for it. She has been residing in an assisted living facility for four years. I am eternally grateful for the care she has and still is receiving from the nurses and ancillary staff.
Mother’s psychosocial behaviors of agitation, memory loss, depression, and psychosis as well as her decreased ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, eating and toileting without assistance became very frustrating for me. Help was needed from nurses and doctors who were specifically trained to care for her. Upon researching two articles for this paper, I am elated to know the interventions or nursing care actions that were discussed are implemented in the facility where she resides.
The two articles, “Evidence on Interventions to Improve Quality of Care for Residents with Dementia in Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities” and “Psychosocial Interventions for Disruptive Symptoms of Dementia” offered and reviewed nursing interventions with the common goal or patient outcome of safety promotion and the improvement of the quality of life for demented patients. The interventions and recommendations pertained to patients who were not incapacitated by the disease. Difficulty with eating and drinking, using the toilet and lack of sleep were some of the identifiable symptoms of demented patients. Both articles recommended allowing autonomy during ADLs. Interventions such as nursing assistants allowing the patients to feed themselves and not feeding them because of empathy exhibited the patient outcome of increased food consumption. Verbal prompting reminding patients how to eat and drink while providing positive reinforcement had a favorable outcome of patients being able to complete drinking and eating tasks. Addressing incontinence by making toilets or bedside commodes more visible and accessible promoted increased use and less incontinence. Establishing frequent and routine toileting through behavior modification encouraged voiding and defecation reducing incontinence. Bright light therapy improving or establishing the demented patient’s circadian rhythm promoted longer sleep durations at night. Interventions in both articles suggest demented patients make the most of their independence by remaining oriented to their surroundings decreasing disruptive symptoms. Lastly, safety of the demented patient was the most important focus and goal of the articles. Locking windows and exit doors in addition to using devices that sound an alarm if they were opened are interventions that aid in the detection when wandering demented patients attempt to leave a facility. Other safety interventions such as removing throw rugs, assisting with ambulation and providing assistive devices such as walkers, canes and wheelchairs aid in the prevention of falls.
It is important to study and research Alzheimer’s disease because millions of baby boomers will turn 65 years old increasing the number of people who will potentially develop the disease