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Mental status implies various orientations. In particular, it encompasses such factors as attention, intelligence, memory, emotions, perception, and many other aspects. The purpose of this paper is to discuss three different diagnoses in relation to the mental well-being of patients and diagnostic tools to help in identifying them.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic illness that has a progressive nature. In this condition, cells of the cerebral cortex die. The death of neurons affects a person’s memory, and his or her capability to orient in time and space is suppressed. Moreover, the patient’s personality (and his or her behavior) also changes.
The symptoms of this disease are various. For example, a person can experience memory loss or have difficulty completing normal tasks. In addition, patients can complain that they cannot find the right words to express their thoughts. The main risk factors for this disease are increased cholesterol and high blood pressure. Also, diabetes and tobacco abuse can cause the development of this illness. Cultural influences may affect the way the disease is perceived. For instance, “cultural constructs prevalent in older African Americans may influence their risk perceptions and knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease” (Rovner, Casten, & Harris, 2013, p. 133). Therefore, the beliefs of people can delay the required treatment.
As a rule, Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS) is used to detect the disease. A two-part scale helps specialists to evaluate patients with cognitive difficulties. In terms of the diagnostic tools, several instruments can be considered helpful. For instance, the neurological examination is quite effective. It allows detecting the presence of neurological disorders in the patient. In addition, Memory Impairment Screening is another helpful instrument. It can be applied to other conditions apart from Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is an acquired illness. It is caused by an organic lesion of the brain. Its symptoms are strong changes in the mood and apathy. In addition, patients may have trouble expressing their thoughts. Apart from that, confusion is another symptom frequently met in dementia patients. The risk factors in this condition are cardiovascular diseases, alcoholism, infections of the central nervous system, and other illnesses. Cultural influences are mostly related to dementia recognition. However, as noted by Hanssen (2012) “reactions and responses may be colored by the patient’s background culture” (p. 231). Therefore, cultural awareness should be an important factor in caring for such patients.
To reach the diagnosis, the Seven Minute Screen tool is helpful. It consists of four activities, which are “temporal orientation, enhanced cued recall, clock drawing, and verbal fluency” (Velayudhan et al., 2014, p. 1255). The benefit of this diagnostic tool lies in its flexibility. Patients’ answers do not have to be precise to be considered correct.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is a disease affecting human memory. It can be a sign of atrophic dementia or an independent consequence of a deterioration of health. The main symptoms of this illness are changes in mood, apathy, irritability, and agitation. Risk factors are traumatic brain injury and encephalitis. In addition, diabetes, high blood pressure, and negative habits can lead to the development of this disease. Importantly, cultural factors may affect the well-being of patients. Individuals belonging to different ethnic groups may not recognize the symptoms of this illness; therefore, the required care may be delayed. The Seven Minute Screen can also be used to reach the diagnosis. In particular, this tool takes 7-8 minutes of patient time; therefore, it does not require strong concentration (Velayudhan et al., 2014). It is advisable for detecting mild cognitive impairment since other tools are not time efficient.
Thus, it can be concluded that different tools exist that can help specialists detect the presence of altered mental status in a patient. Such instruments as ADAS and Memory Impairment Screening are effective in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. The Seven Minute Screen is advisable for such conditions as dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
Hanssen, I. (2012). The influence of cultural background in intercultural dementia care: Exemplified by Sami patients. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 27(2), 231-237.
Rovner, B. W., Casten, R. J., & Harris, L. F. (2013). Cultural diversity and views on Alzheimer’s disease in older African Americans. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 27(2), 133-137.
Velayudhan, L., Ryu, S. H., Raczek, M., Philpot, M., Lindesay, J., Critchfield, M., & Livingston, G. (2014). Review of brief cognitive tests for patients with suspected dementia. International Psychogeriatrics, 26(8), 1247-1262.