The process of ageing is associated with numerous changes such as generational variations, status, self-image, attitudes, and mindfulness of mortality that weaken bodies. Eventually, these changes lead to deterioration of an individual’s health. In serious cases, deterioration of health results in mental retardation. This essay explores the Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type by providing an insight into aspects such as age of disease onset, warning signs, disease stages, risk factors, diagnostic criteria, and interventions that are used to manage the disease.
Definition of the Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia is a broad term that is used in nursing to describe impairment of mental functions such as the memory, judgment, coordination, language, and intellect (Arevalo-Rodriguez et al., 2014). The Alzheimer’s type is the most common type of dementia. The disease encompasses a plethora of memory instabilities that are characterized by decreased ability to acquire new information and impaired remembrance.
Age of Onset
Wilkins et al. (2013) reveal that the Alzheimer’s type dementia not only a disease for old-aged people but also affects individuals who are less than 65 years old. However, younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease is common amongst individuals whose age falls between 40 and 50 years (Arevalo-Rodriguez et al., 2014).
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s disease
1. Memory Loss
At the outset, the Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by memory loss that interrupts a person’s normal life (Rabins & Blass, 2014). Individuals who have this condition tend to disremember newly learned information.
2. Decision-making Problems
Increasing challenges of planning for solutions, especially in problems that involve calculations, can also imply that a person has developed the Alzheimer’s type dementia.
3. Misperception of Time and/or Place
Individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type have a tendency of confusing time or place. According to Fairfield and Mammarella (2009), these individuals cannot track important dates and seasons.
4. Problems with Interpretation of Motion Pictures
Individuals have problems with interpretation of motion pictures. Fairfield and Mammarella (2009) reveal that the disease makes individual to develop difficulties in reading, ruling on length, and determination of color.
5. Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks
In most cases, people with this form of dementia have problems with completion of tasks. Arevalo-Rodriguez et al. (2014) posit that individuals often find it hard to accomplish ordinary tasks due to forgetfulness and misperception.
6. Communication Problems
The dementia Alzheimer’s type results in communication disturbances. Individuals with this disease have problems with both verbal and nonverbal communication.
7. Unusual Misplacement of Items and Inability to Retrace Steps
Individuals with this disease place items in undesirable locations. In most cases, they lose items they misplace because they cannot recall where they lastly put them.
8. Impaired Judgment
Poor judgment is another sign that implies the presence of Alzheimer’s type dementia. Therefore, they are prone to wrong decisions.
9. Withdrawal Attitude
Usually, people with Alzheimer’s disease have withdrawal attitude towards social activities, hobbies, and group projects. As a result, they neglect socialization with other individuals owing to impairment of mental functions.
10. Mood Swings and Personality Changes
Lastly, signs that are associated with irregular mood swings and personality changes may also imply that a person suffers from the Alzheimer’s disease.
During the first stage, an individual does not have any memory impairment. The body is perceived to be functioning normally (Rabins & Blass, 2014). However, the second stage of Alzheimer’s disease development shows very mild cognitive decline. Individuals may experience memory lapses at this stage. The third stage is a period of mild cognitive decline. A patient experiences forgetfulness of newly acquired information, difficulty with task performance, and misplacement of valuable items among other symptoms.
During the fourth stage, the individual experiences moderate cognitive decline. Rabins and Blass (2014) emphasize that this stage calls for vigilant medical assessment to determine the exact symptoms that lead to development of lessened ability to carry out tasks and increased absent-mindedness.
The fifth stage is characterized by moderately severe cognitive decline. At this stage, the individual experiences increased forgetfulness and memory lapses are perceptible. At the sixth stage, an individual experiences severe cognitive decline. The individual develops acute memory lapses and is susceptible to personality changes. At the seventh stage, which is the last phase of disease development or the late-stage, the individual cannot coordinate activities without the help of a nurse or a caretaker.
The most widely known risk factors of the Alzheimer’s type dementia include age, family history, and heredity (Ogawa et al., 2012). Nonetheless, many health professionals regard age as the primary risk factor. Although most individuals develop the disease after 65 years of age, younger individuals who are below the age of 65 years are also susceptible to Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Secondly, family background is also another risk factor increases vulnerability to the disease (Fairfield & Mammarella, 2009). Lastly, scientists have proven that heredity is one of the above risky factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s type dementia. They link the disease to existence of risk and deterministic genes within a family.
Diagnostic Criteria/Nursing Assessments
According to Ogawa et al. (2012), diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease involves a series of steps. As a result, nursing assessments to establish the presence of the disease entail a detailed medical evaluation that involves three steps. Firstly, a specialist assesses the medical history of the patient. Secondly, the mental status is tested to determine memory problems. Lastly, the medical professional conducts blood tests and brain imaging in an attempt to determine other dementia-related symptoms such as depression and drug abuse.
Interventions (Pharmacological and Non-Pharmacological)
Various pharmacological interventions that involve controlled intake of cholinesterase inhibitors and food supplements are used to manage the Alzheimer’s disease (Ogawa et al., 2012). The plan of pharmacological interventions is to delay the development of the disease. Health professionals also use non-pharmacological methods such as the family systems model and family mediation theories to manage the disease.
The family systems model uses cognitive and behavioral interventions to help families to understand their composition and diminuendos that affect their health and functionality. Family mediation is a non-pharmacological technique that is based on the conflict theory. Factors such as perception of illness by family members, attitudes and behavior towards the patient and the caregivers are used to manage the Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Other Considerations in the Management of Alzheimer’s disease
Management of Alzheimer’s type dementia not only demands for the application of the above-mentioned theories but also requires considerable health care support from family members. Usually, this disease exposes a family to challenging decisions since patients of Alzheimer’s type dementia requires the family to arrange for caregiving responsibilities. Health professionals should also consider assessment of the internal family system to establish how it relates to the external environment (Wilkins et al., 2013).
The dementia of Alzheimer’s type is a disease that has increasingly affected the human society. Health professionals have encountered methodological challenges during their efforts to establish proper ways of managing the condition. There is a need to improve the quality of life to reduce the prevalence of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
Arevalo-Rodriguez, I., Segura, O., Solà, I., Bonfill, X., Sanchez, E., & Alonso-Coello, P. (2014). Diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s disease dementia and other dementias: an overview of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) systematic reviews. BMC Neurology, 14(1), 1-19.
Fairfield, B., & Mammarella, N. (2009). The Role of Cognitive Operations in Reality Monitoring: A Study with Healthy Older Adults and Alzheimer’s-Type Dementia. Journal of General Psychology, 136(1), 21-40.
Ogawa, N., Hosomi, J., Koura, S., Oshikawa, T., Tateishi, N., Tanaka, M., Kamijyo, K., & Tanigawa, Y. (2012). Intervention for several behavioral disorders in Alzheimer’s-type dementia. Psychogeriatrics, 12(2), 133-36.
Rabins, P., & Blass, D. (2014). In the Clinic Dementia. Annals of Internal Medicine, 161(3), 1-16.
Wilkins, C., Roe, C., Morris, J., & Galvin, J. (2013). Mild Physical Impairment Predicts Future Diagnosis of Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61(7), 1055-59.