Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, including care, nursing diagnosis, signs and symptoms.

Essay by speedphiUniversity, Master'sA+, April 2003

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Dementia is a set of conditions, medically diagnosed, and leading to recognized and measurable behavioral changes in an individual. Dementia of the Alzheimer's type is a chronic cognitive disorder that is manifested in impairment of either short-term or long-term memory or even both. It has a slow onset and its etiology is unknown, although many speculate that genetics may play a role as well as the decrease in acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter that is used to carry electrical impulses from the axon of one cell to the dendrite of another. The number of neurotransmitters have been found in the brain tissue of patients with dementia and Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's disease accounts for about 70% of dementia cases. Over 4 million people are currently diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease. There is not a specific age of onset although it usually occurs in late adulthood. People are living longer now and for this reason, the number of Alzheimer's cases is on the rise.

It is a neurological disorder of the brain that can cause overwhelming anxiety for both those affected and family members of those affected. In Alzheimer's disease, normal brain tissue is replaced by neuritic plaques which basically just take up space. These brain lesions will inevitably cause death. Various bodily functions begin to be altered depending on the part of the brain affected. Usually as the disease progresses, bladder control will be lost as well as the ability to swallow. The brain lesions will often times trigger the onset of seizures. Cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include alteration in language, ability to solve problems, and even the inability to make appropriate decisions. This may often times be the most difficult symptom for nurses and care providers to deal with legally. In the long run, patients will experience complete...