Guest Author - Ruby Joiner
Dementia is a common condition and many health care professionals will be involved in caring for those who have it.
Dementia is a syndrome not a specific disease; that is, it is a set of symptoms. It is often considered to be an enevitable part of growing old, hence the use of the term "going senile" or "senile dememtia".
Although the features of dementia vary according to its particular type, it is, by definition, progressive which means the ability of the individual to lead a"normal" life will eventually be seriously impaired. Memory impairment must be present to make a diagnosis, but this is not sufficient-there must be evidence of decline in other cognitive (thinking) skills. And there must be interference with the ability to carry out daily living.
Alzheimers disease accounts for about 50-60% of cases of dementia. The average age of onset is around 75, with the incidence increasing with advancing age,although some patients develop the condition in their 40's.
It is because Alzheimers can affect so many different parts of the brain that so many aspects of cognitive function are impaired. Typically there is a loss of short-term memory; disorientaton in time and space; loss of ability to carry out complex daily living skills, or failure to recognize a spouse.
To provide quality care for people with dementia, nurses need a range of skills and an ability to think creatively. Professionals who support and care for people with dementia are responsible for ensuring that their dignity is perserved and that their individual skills and abilities are maximized and retained for as long as possible.
In assisting feelings of security it is vital that the prime aim in caring for people with dementia should be to make them feel secure. This can be achieved in a variety of ways:
-staffing should be organized so that there is continuity;
-changes in staffing should be kept to a minimum,so that faces and voices are familiar;
-the enviroment should be structured in such a way that residents do not become lost: for example, long, plain corriders can lead to confusion and distress;
-smaller, more homely, enviroment will give residents the chance to become familiar with their surroundings.
In conclusion we, as healthcare providers must do what we can with the knowledge we have to give people with dementia a greater quality of life. And we know this is not an easy thing to do but it is the task put before us.It will help each one of us to continue learning new things,and utilize the experiences from the past to make it easier for everyone.