Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease in which memory impairment and disturbances in reasoning and perception are the primary symptoms. It is believed to be caused by an increase in a specific protein that causes nerve cell degeneration. The risk of having this disease increases after the age of 70. Increases age is the main risk factor for this disease. There are also genetic causes for this disease. High blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, etc are also other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (Bauer, p. 57).
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Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by cognitive decline and a decrease in daily living activities. It is the most common type of dementia. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of the disease but cannot reverse or slow the progression of the disease. Short-term memory loss and visual-spatial confusion are usually the first signs of this disease. Patients in the early stage of the disease become less energetic. There are other behavioral changes also like outbursts of violence (Brawley, p. 65).
The initial symptoms of the disease progress to more serious short-term memory loss and difficulty in moving around familiar areas. During the middle stage of the disease patients might retain some form of independence but require assistance in more complicated activities. Also, well-known skills and recognition of objects and person is diminished in this stage of the disease. The advanced stages of the disease are characterized by incontinence, bed fastness, and the inability to feed oneself. Patients require constant supervision and are not able to perform even the simplest tasks (Cox, p. 59).
Alzheimer’s disease affects the person with the illness and the caregivers. It is estimated that 1-4 people are caregivers. The disease has a long duration which impacts more on the caregivers. It can cause a great deal of emotional stress to caregivers. It also has a financial impact on those who provide care for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that the national cost of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease is $100 billion (Hogg, p. 193). It can also indirectly cause lost productivity, absenteeism, and worker replacement.
Many people with Alzheimer’s disease do well at home during the initial stages. However, eventually, there is a need for long-term care facilities. Long-term care is defined as help from family and friends. It can also mean regular visits by home health aides. It might also mean moving the patient to an assisted or nursing home that can provide twenty-four medical attention (Janicki, p. 16).
There are two major types of long-term facilities for Alzheimer’s disease patients. One of them is a Nursing home that provides room and board with twenty-four-hour skilled care. A licensed nurse provides this type of care. There are special units for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The environments, activities, philosophy of care, and staff training are based upon the needs of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Nursing homes usually have trained and supportive staff who know how to adjust to the patient. They have information about each patient to individualize care and eliminate behavioral symptoms. There are special activities that reduce anxiety and agitation. A nursing home has pleasing sights, sounds, and smells. They also have a low noise level and nonglare lighting. Some facilities also have security measures to prevent wandering (Dalton, p. 145).
Another type of long-term facility is assisted living. This type of facility is suitable for people who require personal care and general guidance but do not require any specialized medical care. They are good for people with moderate functional impairment. This type of long-term care promotes self-direction and participation in decisions. It also focuses on independence, privacy, and dignity. It attempts to create a home-based environment. It is an attractive option for patients who seek assistance and independence at the same time (Koenig, p. 174).
There are many types of assisted living facilities. Assistance in these facilities is characterized by helping the patient in bathing, grooming, transferring, toileting, laundry, cleaning, and meal reminders. Assisted living facilities for Alzheimer’s disease patients are known as “Special Care Units” (Marler, p. 14). The environment of such facilities is designed to make the patient safe and comfortable. Activities are meant to ensure that the patient will benefit. Some facilities accept people until they require special care. Others only accept people who are suffering from the initial stages of the disease.
There is a structured routine in these facilities. The staff has a particular time to gather lifestyle information about the patient. Safety measures are implemented to ensure a comfortable and safe surroundings. Activities help people in performing tasks such as making their bed and baking cookies. These activities provide satisfaction and productivity. Outdoor activities are also offered at such facilities. Staff members are trained to handle behavioral problems in this disease. Assisted living facilities are beneficial for patients who do not require specialized medical care and are at the early stages of the disease (May, p. 96).
Assisted living facilities offer many services. They can include providing one to three meals a day and monitoring medication. They also provide personal care and housekeeping. They have twenty-four-hour emergency care. They have medical, social, and recreational facilities. Looking for the best-assisted living facility is essential for caregivers. They should find out if the facility is licensed. They should also ensure what type of insurance facility is present in the facility. Their ability to respond to emergencies must also be analyzed by the caregivers (Robinson, p. 95).
Staff training is essential in choosing the type of assisted care facility. Caregivers should look at the staff turnover and their customer service skills. They also check if the staff members are adequately trained in assisting patients with memory and judgment problems. The atmosphere of the assisted living facility is also important since it should be observed how the residents socialize with each other. The opinions of other visitors and residents should also be listened to about the assisted living facility.
Finally, the appearance and environment of the building are important. The décor should be attractive. The floor plan must be easy to follow. There must also be facilities for accommodating wheelchairs and walkers. The availability of elevators and handrails is also important in deciding the best type of assisted living facility. The residence must be clean and free from odors. There should be appropriate heating and cooling. The security measures enforced at the assisted living facility must also be observed and monitored (Baxter, p. 20).
Alzheimer’s disease causes a decline in thinking, judgment, and problem-solving. It can also cause confusion and disorientation. It causes difficulty in maintaining normal behaviors. It can cause inappropriate social situations. The patient can become a danger to himself. Anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations are psychotic behaviors displayed in patients. Behavior problems require a modification of lifestyle and environment. Wandering, hiding things, anger, belligerence, hallucinations, and eating problems are some of the behavioral problems that have to be handled (Bass, p. 20).
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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that has no cure. It affects caregivers and causes direct and indirect losses. Caregivers must eventually decide on long-term care. Long-term care usually consists of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Assisted living facilities are beneficial for patients in the early stages of the disease. They are the best option for patients who do not require a specialized medical skills. There are many types of assisted living facilities. Assistance in these facilities is characterized by helping the patient in bathing, grooming, transferring, toileting, laundry, cleaning, and meal reminders. Assisted living facilities for Alzheimer’s disease patients are known as “Special Care Units”. The environment of such facilities is designed to make the patient safe and comfortable. Activities are meant to ensure that the patient will benefit.
Choosing the best type of long-term care can be difficult for caregivers. Assisted living facilities are the best option for people with early stages of the disease. Nursing home facilities are best for patients who suffer from advanced stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease can cause emotional and financial stress to the patient and the caregivers. However, there are many choices available that can improve the quality of life.
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