ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.

A chronic, progressive and degenerative cognitive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions. The most common form occurs in people above 65yrs of age and it’s incidence rate increases with age.

Therefore Alzheimer’s is commonly known as an elderly disease which occurs in stages though it’s unfortunate that in it’s earliest stage, victims and their families are usually unable to notice it’s a disease until the late stage when symptoms deteriorate. It’s an incurable disease but drug therapy is sometimes given so as to manage existing symptoms rather than curing the disease.

STAGES AND SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

There are 3 most common stages with particular symptoms;

Stage 1-The disease usually begins with a mild memory loss, decreased judgement and inability to comprehend.

Stage 2- Deterioration of intellectual functions, personality changes, speech and language problems, inability to remember item purpose, urinary incontinence, wandering, seizures, psychotic behaviors e.g hallucinations.

Stage 3/late stage. Inability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), immobility, minimal/no communication.

TREATMENT.

  1. Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease but environmental structuring which involves providing a safe and stimulating mileu that provides consistency and comfort for the patient is ideal.
  2. Drug therapy is also given and it’s majorly aimed at improving memory rather than curing the disease.
  3.  Anti depressants and psychotic medications are used in case of secondary diagnoses such as hallucinations and depression.
  4. Hiring professional caregivers who are compassionate, competent, confident and committed with conscience is also ideal hence improving quality of life.

CAREGIVER ROLE IN ALZHEIMER'S MANAGEMENT.

  • In collaboration with physical and occupational therapists ,the caregiver assesses the patient’s need for assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) and hence a better care plan.
  • Patient’s self-care and exercising is encouraged by caregivers to the fullest extent possible.
  • For patients at stage 2 and 3, caregivers ensure validation therapy in which patient’s feelings are valued and supported than refuted.
  • Caregivers help motivate neurological function which includes mental, emotional states and motor capabilities.
  • Caregivers should inquire for the patient’s earlier known interests and preferences so as to be included in activity therapy and also help to encourage interaction with fellow patients thus improving intellectual stimulation.
  • Caregivers evaluate the patient for gastrointestinal or urinary and fecal incontinence plus fluid and food intake for imbalance detection then report to the family Doctor.
  • The caregiver ensures that the patient toilets before and after meals then every 2hours in-between.The caregiver also assesses the patient’s living environment to eliminate hazards and teaches the family members how to monitor activity and prevent falls, nurns and other injuries.
  • Caregivers should share and discuss care issues with the patient’s family and exchange information.

NOTE: Expectations shouldn’t exceed the patient’s ability to perform tasks since the patient may misperceive the environment therefore, caregivers need to speak softly and calmly to allow sufficient time for answers given the patient’s slowed thought process and impaired ability to communicate verbally.

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