sometimes i have real trouble deciphering whether a patient is just experiencing the normal deteroriation of old age or if indeed they might have alzheimer's or dementia. Please can people let me know what signals they use to make an initial decision?
make sure that it is not transitory confusion related to dehydration.
this happened to a friend's mother who was admitted to a cottage hospital for an ulcer which wouldn't heal.
the nurses found her confused and put it down to her age. she had been perfectly lucid and independent prior to her admission running her own home. fortunately my friend, who is not a nurse, was very astute and noted that she had become severely dehydrated since her admission and her confusion quickly disappeared after administration of a drip to restore her fluid levels!
I think this is a good lesson to us all before we label an elderly patient with dementia.
Medication elderly people are taking is also something to be investigated before diagnosing a patient with dementia. Even if medication is prescribed it needs to be established what the patient is actually taking and how they are taking it.
"deteroriation of old age" mental deterioration is not considered normal in an ageing person therefore you would have to consider other factors. Probably the most important information of use would be knowing what is the persons pre- illness cognitive state. Here in Australia there is some movement toward teaching those who lack a specialised aged care education about a condition known as "delirium", the bare bones of this is, any aged person is quite likely to suffer all the symptoms of confusion/dementia, however, this is normally a transitory state. Causes are likely to be any illness really, anaesthetics, medications, infections, abnormal U& E's, in fact in aged care facilities the first thing the nurse thinks about when faced with any change in behaviours is UTI,
really hope this helps, so happy you recognise this problem and actually want to do something about it, good on you! hope this helps
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