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Nursing Care and Understanding of Alzheimer Disease

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Nursing Care and Understanding

of Alzheimer Disease


Loss of memory, forgetfulness, personal change, even death, are common related disorders caused by a disease called Dementia or better known to most people as Alzheimer's disease. This disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States in persons 65 and older. Alzheimer's disease is, named for the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who first recognized the disease in 1907; Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a progressive deterioration of mental functioning. Nursing plays a major role in the care for patients who have Alzheimer's disease during the three stages of the disease. The majority of Alzheimer's patients are cared for at home by nursing caregivers or in a nursing home facility.

Impact on Today's World

Of the many illnesses know today, Alzheimer's has an effect not only on the patient but on the caregiver or nurse as well. Many journal articles, papers, and books discuss the impact on the role of the nurse and the Alzheimer's patient. These articles show that over time the impact of this disease puts the nurse out of his or her homeostasis. Through the process of the disease the ability to control and maintain ones self stability is somewhat overwhelming and can lead to depression of the nurse caring for the patient in most cases. Depression and frustration usually comes from the fact that the Alzheimer's patient's mental and physical health is gradually dwindling away, and the caregiver or nurse feels helpless. This helplessness comes from the fact that the nurse or caregiver is showing care, compassion, and using all the knowledge he or she has, yet the nurse sees little to no progress in the person because the disease process is taking over. "One caregiver described the disease as being a long journey in which the undeniable end is death, no fixed route, and no estimated time of departure" (Morton, 2003 p.262).


Nursing is the art of caring. Nursing is a profession because it requires an education in order to give the patient the care he or she needs. Nursing is giving of your self to help others in need of care. In nursing you are always learning, and through education you enhance your abilities to give the highest quality of care. Nursing education enhances the nurse's intellectual and personal qualities to be the best she or he can be.

Nursing is the concept of adaptation, self actualization, knowledge, and the ability to use and demonstrate these ideals in every situation. Holistic nursing is the idea that you understand and perceive the patient's state of health. Alzheimer's disease puts the nurse in a situation that in reality he or she has no idea what it is like to actually understand what the patient is going through. Through the process of this disease the nurse must overcome their own emotions and realize that they are there for one reason. This one reason is simply to care for the patient. The patient over time will change mentally, emotionally, and physically which will not only challenge the nurse and their ability to understand and care for the patient, but these factors will also affect the family of the patient. The family must also know that the patient needs nursing and loving care; sometimes a gentle touch from a loved one helps the patient to be reassured.

Summary of Research Findings

The average life span of a person getting Alzheimer's is between the ages of 45 and 60. Millions of people are plagued by this heartbreaking disease. Although heredity does not play an obvious role, if one's parents have it, there is a great chance of the disease appearing in the child during their elderly years. The risk for getting the disease increases with age and is seen more commonly in elderly females. There are a number of theories for the actual cause of Alzheimer's disease, but at this time its causes and cure are still being researched. Alzheimer's disease has been classified as an organic disorder, which is also known as a brain impairment of the elderly. It is not to be confused with a functional disorder which no physical cause has been found and its origin appears to be emotional. The organic disorder clearly has a physical basis (Harris 1990). Early detection of Alzheimer's disease is a commonly overlooked as just depression. Depression is natural for people who have memory loss, poor judgment, or misplacing items. Depression is the earliest sign of Alzheimer's disease, but depression could also be a sign of a person getting older and not being able to do the activities they were able to do when they were young. When the depression becomes apparent when there is memory loss, disorientation, poor judgment, and misplacing of items is when a person should really be concerned with whether or not they have Alzheimer's disease:

AD is a common affliction of old age and accounts for approximately two thirds of the 5 to 6 million late-life dementias. Memory impairment is generally a prominent early symptom. AD proceeds in stages over months and years and gradually destroys a person's memory, reason, judgment, and language, and eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks of daily life. (Smith, 2002 p.77)

In today's society the need for a cure or medicine to suppress the disorder is

growing, because the numbers of elderly are on the rise in increasingly large numbers in the United States. Some factors that have been linked as causes for Alzheimer's are hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, delirium associated with a stroke and epileptic seizures. Scientists continue to research for treatments to slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease and to hold the disease off as long as possible. "If



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