How to support patients living with dementia

Dementia affects millions of Americans, and the onset of Alzheimer's and other similar disorders can be extremely burdensome for friends and family members. Working with dementia patients can test your nursing skills, as this can at times require serious resolve. Understanding what to look for and the types of dementia care that can be offered throughout the stages of the ailment gives you more insight in working with patients and offering the best treatment possible. 

The signs of dementia and working with patients
The Alzheimer's Association reported that a cognitive assessment usually precedes any testing or biological evaluation, and for nurses, being able to spot the most common signs of dementia can be critical. Currently, it is unclear whether dementia is caused by genetic or environmental factors, and that can make it difficult to identify at-risk patients. Nurses who spot early symptoms can help place patients on track for getting care as quickly as possible. In this way, some of the things that are thought to exacerbate or cause dementia such as smoking or poor diet can be eliminated and patients and families can make other changes as needed. 

Knowing the signs of dementia is also a key nursing skill when working with patients who have more advanced memory loss. This way nurses can better address symptoms such as irritability, neglecting to take medication and a number of other behaviors. The National Institute of Aging has a helpful list of the different signs of dementia and when they may be expressed. 

Working with dementia patients is difficult yet rewarding.Working with dementia patients is difficult yet rewarding.

Supporting families
Dementia can take a serious toll on friends and family. It can be emotionally taxing to see a loved one lose independence, and your nursing skills must include navigating this difficult reality. When seeing a patient who may show signs of Alzheimer's work with a doctor to establish the proper protocol before involving the patient or family to avoid any unnecessary worry.

Being a helpful resource to family is one of the best ways to support someone living with dementia. In this way, caregivers and loved ones may feel a little less stressed or alone with the problem. Even day-to-day tasks for dementia patients and their families can be challenging, and the bright, face of a familiar nurse or doctor can be a bit of a relief for loved ones.

Dementia care 
Early on, an individual living with dementia can lead a perfectly normal life, and even as the ailment progresses, family support and occasional guidance from health professionals is enough to achieve normalcy. With time, however, more advanced dementia care may be necessary.

You may choose to use your nursing skills to help individuals seeking dementia care. This can be in a patient's home, at an assisted living facility or working with a hospice. Your reassuring demeanor and patience helps those living with the ailment to be more comfortable and relaxed. Likewise, families benefit from the peace of mind that a loved one is well-looked after.

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