Steps to Providing Optimal Care in Assisted Living: Residents with Dementia

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I. Introduction I had only heard the word dementia a handful of times in the years leading up to my employment at Parkhaven Assisted Living. Like most people, I pictured dementia in the form of mismatched shoes and memory loss. It took just one eight-hour shift to open my eyes to the stark reality that dementia is more than just a nuisance; dementia is crippling, rendering those who are affected by it nearly helpless. Dementia is a progressive disease in which the brain loses much of its cognitive, emotional and mental abilities, such as an individual’s ability to process thoughts and communicate. It’s important to consider that dementia is a general word for a multitude of specific diseases of the brain. There are ten recognized forms of dementia ranging from Alzheimer's, the most common, to the less common Huntington's disease. Although the majority of dementia cases are relatively similar to one another there are some major differences among them. For instance, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a type of dementia that results from a variety of preventable factors such as alcohol misuse whereas Huntington’s is completely unpreventable, a result of a single defective gene on chromosome four (Alzheimers Organization). Fig. 1: Prevalence of different types of dementia As of December, 2010, 35.6 million people worldwide were living with some form of dementia. A new case of dementia is diagnosed every four seconds and the number of people affected is expected to double every twenty years, reaching up to 65.7 million by 2030 (World Health Organization). There is currently no known cure for dementia and most cases are controlled through the use of physical a... ... middle of paper ... ...n all-encompassing term for a number of similar syndromes and diseases of the brain. Although the effects of these ailments are generally similar, there must be consideration towards the fact that some therapies may not be as beneficial to one resident as they are to another. There are also possible issues that could arise as a result of misleading information and/or possible inaccurate assumptions, so it is important to determine the validity of the sources as well as separate fact from opinion. Another thing to keep in mind is that this research will be conducted to determine what therapies are best to implement in assisted living facilities, not any other type of medical facility (i.e. hospitals, nursing homes). Issues such as medication and medical procedures will not be discussed as they are not related to what can be implemented in an assisted living facility.

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