Dementia and The Elderly Population Discussion

An area I chose to focus on in the CDC wonder site was the State of Aging in America. Working with the elderly population, I am always wanting to know more and look at trends and information related to the elderly population. CDC Wonder in this section focuses on brain health, chronic conditions, and the burdens placed on care givers. Another area focused on was mental health and depression. I deal with all these issues everyday along with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The CDC linked me to the Healthy People 2020 initiative and I explored the topic area of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. the initiative was that there will be an “increased proportion of healthcare workers with geriatric certification.” (Healthy people 2020) There are many areas to think about when dealing with this population in regards to “communication, agitation, nutrition, hygiene, and pain.” (Weitzel, 2011) Many of those with dementia /Alzheimers will refuse all care, they can show aggressive or combative behaviors, medications can make the situation worse, they forget to eat or prefer the wrong things, they can’t make their own decisions related to medical care, and they are at higher risk of care giver abuse and burnout. I see this everyday on my floor and it is exhausting. Many families do not come and visit anymore when the resident gets really bad, a lot of times because they can’t see their loved one being aggressive or the fact that the resident doesn’t know who they are. Specialized care is needed for this population. Some days I get frustrated with the fact we closed our specialized dementia unit to replace it with our short term rehab. We had specialized activities, consistent staff that were more educated with the behaviors and how to better communicate.

Nurses using telehealth could benefit from the resources by looking up information and educating them selves or giving a family member or care giver a link to read to get their own information when dealing with an issue focused on the CDC Wonder site.

I found the link very easy to follow and the links to further information were easy to get into and relevant to the main topic. A lot of relevant information and links were given and many resources were available to help in many topics.

Since my topic of choice was dementia and the elderly population, I will share pieces of what it is like. The behaviors are hard to deal with sometimes. Getting to know the resident and their likes and dislikes is helpful>m sometimes its a different face or routine that throws them off and causes the behaviors. Keeping consistent care givers is important so they do not get confused. Talk to them, not down at them. They will say things sometimes that will shock you. Refusals of care is hard too. They will fight if they do not want to do something like shower or brush their teeth. This is where redirection or approaching at a later time might be good. With nutrition, find what they like, maybe it will be ice cream three times a day. Encourage them to eat other things however first then offer the ice cream as a reward. I could go on and on with examples. I however will share one that really sticks out. I had a resident in her late 80’s who very rarely had a visitor and couldn’t put many word together to make a sentence that made sense. She would refuse care, and wander up and down the unit. She would sometimes get combative. One day we had a woman visiting another resident and my demented resident went right up to her and said, Karen, hi, how is your mom?? The visitors name was Karen and she lived with her mom. The resident and visitor went to school together over 40 years ago and the resident went to Karen’s moms house all the time. They hadn’t seen each other in years. Then that fast, the resident turned around and started to walk the hallway again. (Links to an external site.)

Weitzel, T., Robinson, S., Barnes, M.R., Berry, T.A., Holmes, J.M., Mercer, S., Kirkbride, G.L., (2011) The Special Needs of the Hospitalized Patient with Dementia. MEDSURG Nursing. 20(1), 13-19.

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