There is no definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease while the patient is living; however, brain atrophy is often present in computed tomography (CT scans) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. It is important to remember that brain atrophy is present in most types of dementia.
The MMSE is a series of 30 questions that acts as a screening tool for the current mental state of the patient. Less than 9 points indicates severe impairment; 10-18 points moderate impairment; 18-24 mild impairment; 25-30 points is indicative of normal cognitive function.
Drug therapy for this disorder includes medications that manage symptoms, as there is no cure. Medications such as donepezil (Aricept) and memantine (Namenda) decrease the progression of the disease. Antidepressants and antianxiety medications are indicated as many patients become depressed and anxious as they lose their independence.
Encourage a safe environment for these patients based on the stage of their disease. Provide consistent routines and frequent reorientation to minimize confusion.
Moderate exercise is helpful for individuals as it increases personal health and improves muscle tone.
These patients are often confused and disoriented, especially in later stages of the disease. Providing simple, easy-to-follow daily routines and reinforcing reality orientation are important.
Care is aimed to maintain the patient’s independence and ability to complete activities of daily living. Maintaining independence increases self-esteem and promotes overall health preventing depression.
Caregivers are often overwhelmed in the care of a patient with severe dementia. Providing a consistent caregiver decreases confusion and anxiety in confused patients. Discuss problems that may arise during the care of these patients including night wandering, aggressiveness and a possible inability to recognize family members.
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