Print

Resources >> Browse Articles >> How to

Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job

+4

How to Handle a Patient With Alzheimer's Disease

How to Handle a Patient With Alzheimer's Disease

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

Nursing the Patient

Regardless of our feelings of how Molly ended up in our care, it’s up to us to set those feelings aside to focus on the patient at hand. We’ve all seen what these traumatic situations can do to the fragile mental state of someone with Alzheimer’s, which makes the care these patients get even more important.

The nursing staff is on the frontline when it comes to patients who have AD. Other than the patient’s family, nobody else gets as close or as intimate with the patients. The day-to-day nursing care brings a sense of familiarity between the patient and the nurse. Often, it is members of the nursing staff who sense when deterioration is happening or when something just isn’t right.

Home Care of Someone with AD

With AD, knowing that that “something just isn’t right” feeling isn’t always something you can put your finger on. For someone who is physically ill, when something’s wrong it’s often obvious – the patient has more pain, they have a high fever, or they’re hypotensive. But, if someone like Molly deteriorates, the changes are more subtle, making it difficult to identify exactly what’s the problem. And this is where a regular caregiver, a nurse who knows Molly well, is invaluable.

Of course, a home health nurse knows that a patient like Molly is slowly losing her mental competence. But when he goes to see her, she’s as pleasant as can be. She likes to talk about her kids, long grown and moved away, and her job as a teacher many years ago.

The nurse performs his tasks and assessments as Molly tells him about a school recital gone wrong many years ago. At times, he may be the only person who will really listen to Molly, because her family just has heard this story so many times, that they tune her out now.

Caring for a patient with AD at home can be a long, drawn out process, or it can end quickly. As patients like Molly deteriorate slowly, there may come a time when the home health nurse has to start making plans for when Molly can’t live alone any longer. Here is where the nursing job may get tricky: What if Molly doesn’t want to leave?

It would almost be better if something drastic were to happen, making it easier on the family and patients like Molly to accept the transition to an assisted living facility or long-term care hospital. While we don’t wish harm on our patients, if Molly became suddenly ill (developing severe pneumonia, or falling and breaking a bone for example), then she wouldn’t have a choice at all and would be sent to a hospital.

Next: Dealing With the Family >>


+4
  • 1024963740_m_max50

    vickielee1970

    about 4 years ago

    808 comments

    Making the decision to put Momma or Daddy or Grannie in the nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions most people face. Accepting that they can no longer care for their loved one at home is heartbreaking. We as nurses can help educate the family and facilitate a smoother transition for patients. Aknowledgeing the pain and fear they are facing can often make the decision easier. Families who face the decision for nursing home placement realistically, visit more often allowing for patients to get the care they need, without losing the family they love.

  • Dsc00091_max50

    FAB56

    over 4 years ago

    398 comments

    Denial within the family is very frightening and disturbing as a nurse in ensuring that the dementia patient is safe in the situation they are in. I have seen denial families who have allowed their loved ones to live alone and some very serious consequences of that. Our role with these patients is vital and our patience is worth more than one can ever know. It is hard to have patience with an Alzheimers patient - but we must be there to keep them safe and know them well enough to be able to assess their needs - which is easier than you think if you take the time to get to know them.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 4 years ago

    Sometimes the hardest part of dealing with a patient with AD is the family - especially when won't accept the fact that mom or dad or whoever is deteriorating or that they even have AD. Family is convinced it's something else - like an infection or other illness making their family member not "act quite right".

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.