A cause of serious disability among those who live with the condition, dementia has a wide–ranging impact on families and close friends, who can experience stress, frustration and exhaustion in caring for a loved one, as well as feelings of loss for the person they love.
Dementia is not a normal part of ageing. Nurses have a central role to play in raising public awareness and recognition of dementia, said Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India.
Nurses can promote the importance of assessment and early diagnosis; the need for inclusive community support services and accommodation options; the value of education and training for formal and informal caregivers. They can encourage and support caregiver self–help groups and multidisciplinary collaboration in dementia–oriented practice and research. They can also advocate for the protection of patients’ rights and interests.
The prevalence of dementia among those aged 65 to 69 years is 2.17% for males and1.10% for females; in those 75 to 79 years, 5.04% for males and 6.67% for females; in 85 to 89 year olds, 18.45% for males and 22.76% for females; and among 90 to 94 year olds, 32.1% for males and 32.25% for females. Women tend to live longer than men. http://www.emedinews.org/
Alzheimer’s disease is perhaps the best–known type of dementia. Here, brain cells shrink or disappear over time, in the process affecting an individual’s behavior and ability to perform day to day functions.
Dementia can also be the result of vascular insults, such as stroke; HIV–related illness; excessive alcohol use; or metabolic imbalances.
Most dementias, like that due to Alzheimer’s are progressive and irreversible;
The most common early symptoms of dementia are: memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgment, problems, keeping track of things, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, changes in personality, and loss of initiative. These symptoms can sometimes be linked to conditions other than dementia, such as adverse drug reactions, thyroid gland dysfunction, infections, alcohol abuse and, in older people, depression.
There is no simple test to diagnose dementia. Diagnosis is usually made after taking a careful history from a close family member or friend, and examination of the person’s physical and mental status. Brain imaging technologies (CT, MRI and PET) can help give more weight to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Role of nurses in caring for these patients is the most important as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or most other types of dementia. Thus, treatment focuses on improving quality of life. This includes minimizing symptoms and addressing their cause where possible. Drug treatments may be effective in controlling depression and agitation. In the early stages of dementia, it may also be possible to improve an individual’s memory using medication.