Dementia is a mental/cognitive malfunction in which the patient is unable to recall past events. Sometimes the patient is unable to perform everyday activities, and he may also be unable to express himself properly.
Other conditions that accompany dementia are the inability to speak, disorientation to time and place, memory loss and confusion.
With time, dementia progresses and the patient may become immobile, depressed and paranoid. They may not remember who they are and become frightened and upset. They may find it difficult to adapt to the changing environment and may not be able to co-operate in their plan of care. Immobility can cause other diseases and complications and eventually lead to the patient’s death.
Dementia is also found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a cognitive malfunction in which the patient has irreversible dementia. It is most commonly seen in patients over 65. The patient can even react violently because he is unable to perform normal functions. The patient can also experience auditory or visual hallucinations which make them frightened.
The CNA should use the following guidelines when providing care for such patients:
- Be caring and provide emotional support as the patient often experiences frustration and depression.
- Be supportive as it can improve the patient’s self-esteem and outlook towards life.
- Ensure that the patient consumes meals at the right time, as a loss of appetite can result in malnutrition.
- The patient becomes disoriented and wanders around and may even hurt himself. Keep the patient’s surroundings neat and clean to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Reassure the patient and maintain a routine so it keeps the patient-oriented to the place and surroundings.
- The care plan should also include measures that help the patients maintain daily functions. As the patient is forgetful, regularly inform the patient to follow the routine.
- Respond calmly when the patient reacts aggressively.
Involve the family members in the plan of care so that they provide emotional support to the patient.