Cognition is essential for human health and daily functioning; dementia as a severe cognitive impairment obstructs human wellbeing and independent dwelling. A timely diagnosis of dementia is crucial for adequate management approaches. According to recent research, “the benefits of early recognition of dementia include receiving early access to treatment, appropriate information, advice and support to improve the quality of life of patients, caregivers, and relatives” (Giezendanner et al., 2019, pp. 1-2). Moreover, holistic care approaches that incorporate different disciplines are most effective in the illness management
Dementia diagnosis, treatment, and prevention have some particularities which are essential for the nursing staff to deliver excellent care. The importance of nursing skills in dementia care is validated by the need not only to provide treatment but also to advise and assist patients in their daily life with the condition (Jackson et al., 2020), Therefore, this presentation will provide a sufficient overview of the illness, its treatment and management options, as well as manifestations in different domains of life.
Comparison of Dementia with Osteoporosis
The specifics of cognitive illnesses are justified by the relative invisibility of their manifestations. Indeed, when compared to physical disease, dementia does not expose as many visible symptoms and manifestations as, for example, osteoporosis, which is a condition characterized by bone weakness and fracture risk (Li et al., 2017). However, when comparing dementia with osteoporosis one might identify several similar features. Namely, both illnesses prevail in the elderly and have a continuous burden on everyday life. They both require ongoing treatment and medication intake and require long-term professional care. Finally, both osteoporosis with its risks of fractures and dementia with the risks of memory loss obstruct patients’ independent dwelling.At the same time, there are significant differences between the two illnesses, which are most evident on a symptomatic level. Firstly, patients with dementia do not experience physical pain while individuals with osteoporosis suffer from chronic pain, predominantly back pain (Li et al., 2017). Secondly, memory loss is one of the key symptoms of dementia; however, osteoporosis is not characterized by any cognitive impairment. Thirdly, although both conditions deteriorate with time, dementia is manifested through decreased cognitive abilities, and osteoporosis is manifested through decreased physical movement. Finally, dementia does not imply any changes in the body while osteoporosis is accompanied by changes in posture, walking, and height loss (Li et al., 2017).
Both the physical and the cognitive illnesses require an early diagnosis for adequate treatment administration. Similarly, ongoing professional assistance in daily activities might be needed for the patients suffering from both illnesses due to the impairments to either cognition or mobility that obstruct safe daily life. Thus, in both conditions, nursing guidance is needed to assist patients in the preparedness for possible deterioration (Jackson et al., 2020). However, there are differences in treatment options, which are characterized by medications for osteoporosis and a variety of therapy approaches for dementia. Finally, when providing care to older patients with either osteoporosis or dementia, nurses must ensure informative and competent work with caregivers and families to ensure consistency of care.
Historical, Socioeconomic, and Political Aspects of Dementia
Given the high rate of dementia cases in the elderly, it is necessary to review the historical, socioeconomic, and political aspects of the disease. From the historical perspective, dementia as a neurological cognitive impairment has long been considered a natural aging process until the relationship between dementia symptoms and their main cause, Alzheimer’s disease has been emphasized (Giezendanner et al., 2019; Jackson et al., 2020). Since its discovery, the research on dementia has advanced in the direction of more evidence-based practices. Moreover, contemporary academic and clinical interdisciplinary efforts have been enhanced (Fox et al., 2018). As for the socioeconomic aspects, it has been suggested that people with lower income have higher risks of dementia due to increased stress (Kratz, 2017). On the other hand, the disability caused by dementia limits patients’ employment opportunities. From the political perspective, dementia has been largely politicized and the prevalent rate of the illness in developed countries has been validated by a lower rate of longevity in patients with dementia in developing countries due to poor health care.
Educational and Topographic Aspects of Dementia
From the educational perspective, learning impairments are considered a key manifestation of dementia. Also, research suggests that a lower level of education might be associated with dementia risks (Giezendanner et al., 2019; Jackson et al., 2020). Furthermore, individuals with dementia require professional assistance in learning due to cognitive problems. As for the topographic aspects of the illness, the statistics show that 47.5 million people live with dementia worldwide with 7.7 million new cases every year (Fox et al., 2018). As of the anticipated increase in prevalence by region is expected in 2050, the number of cases in Western Europe will increase by 100%, in North America by 170%, in China and Western Pacific countries by 336%, and in Latin America by 339% (Jackson et al., 2020).
Interdisciplinary Interventions for Dementia
Management of dementia is a multidisciplinary issue that necessitates the inclusion of specialists in diverse fields to assist patients in their life with the disease. The integration of medical treatment and nursing care into the management approach is essential (Jackson et al., 2020). Another manifestation of the interdisciplinary method is the launching of educational efforts for families and caregivers. These are the responsibilities of a nurse who should execute all measures possible to ensues patients’ safety and well-being. Moreover, the participation of multiple professional members of interdisciplinary teams such as “physician, speech pathologist, recreational therapist, and geropsychiatric clinical nurse” help “improve the management of behavioral disturbances” (Jackson et al., 2020, p. 40).
From the interdisciplinary perspective, the use of technological advancement aids in health care interventions. In particular, according to Shu and Woo (2021), online-based information can help disseminate knowledge and awareness about dementia. On a more practical side, the use of smart devices can help individuals with dementia to gain autonomy in life. Moreover, an interdisciplinary field called gerontechnology allows for enhancing the environment for aging by creating a network for the elderly with dementia (Shu & Woo, 2021). Thus, when using smart devices, such as reminders, tracking apps, and voice-activated devices in the house, patients can manage daily life without forgetting or confusion.
Interdisciplinary Interventions for Dementia: Integration of Art
Another interdisciplinary approach to dementia management interventions is the combining of different types of art. For example, research studies have proven the benefits of music therapy for behavioral improvement, which helps reduce relapses and hospitalization (Camic et al., 2018). Theatrical performances are initiated as supplementary interventions for symptom management. Similarly, visual arts have been associated with therapeutic effects on patients with dementia. Thus, the introduction of interdisciplinary interventions to dementia care would be beneficial for nurses.
Health Care Practices
When providing care to patients with dementia, it is important to consider the mode of care, namely acute or preventive. In particular, acute care largely depends on the medication and interdisciplinary treatment while preventive care is reliant on the adjustment of lifestyle. Importantly, nurses should ensure that the types of care practices used to match patients’ cultural, spiritual, and ethnic expectations, which is particularly relevant to cognitive and behavioral conditions. Another aspect to remember is the adverse impact of diminished access to health care on the treatment and well-being opportunities for the elderly. It is essential to enhance health care accessibility for the at-risk groups. Notably, nurses should consider a variety of approaches to manage the sick roles commonly performed by the elderly with dementia to empower them for independence.
In order to implement preventative health care practices, nurses should prioritize the process of raising awareness about the causes of illness among at-risk patients. As for the lifestyle adjustment, shifting to a healthy diet, physical activity on a regular basis, and other healthy lifestyle choices should be reinforced. In addition, the elderly should be advised to stay socially active and engage in meaningful relationships with family and friends (Kratz, 2017). Another important aspect of preventing dementia and its memory and cognition impairment is to induce mental alertness and cognitive practices through reading, quizzes, and other activities. Finally, bad habits such as smoking or other substance use should be ceased to minimize the risks for dementia development.
When addressing acute care options, one might differentiate such health care practices as memory therapy and self-maintenance therapy. Memory therapy is a set of regular group sessions that are designed to refresh old memories and their emotional aspects (Kratz, 2017). This practice is capable of improving memory loss issues over time. Self-maintenance therapy, on the other hand, helps to deal with the sick role of patients with dementia since they allow for empowering them to improve self-esteem and helps them deal with daily activities independently (Kratz, 2017).
Another effective health care intervention applicable to dementia is psychotherapy, which should be adapted to every patient’s cognitive level and followed by the choice of appropriate interventions (Kratz, 2017). These practices might be helpful in anxiety reduction for patients with moderate and severe forms of dementia. Moreover, psychotherapeutic interventions help build coping skills and empower patients for autonomy (Kratz, 2017). Similar effects might be achieved by means of physical activity, which might be performed as nurse-assisted walks or simple exercising on a regular basis. These physical interventions are viewed as activators of strengths and help reduce the risks for depression.
When dealing with any type of illness, cultural aspects should be considered pivotal since they contribute to nurse-patient relationships. In particular, linguistic issues should be taken into account when designing interventions for patients with dementia. Bilingual patients might have the need for intervention adapting or translator involvement, as well as the addressing of the specific language-related issues for speaking practices (Jackson et al., 2020). Culture also predetermines lifestyle choices, which is why nurses should research their patients’ cultural backgrounds to assist them in daily activities with cultural competence informed by spirituality and family traditions.
Some of the culture-related issues that might be helpful when providing care to patients with dementia include the integration of cultural sensitivity in all interventions. For example, care for male patients with dementia should be provided with the cultural male roles associated with strength and independence. Importantly, cultural segregation especially in group sessions should be avoided to ensure equality and equity of care (Jackson et al., 2020). The knowledge about patients’ religious affiliation might be helpful in placing appropriate spiritual assistance. Finally, nurses should put the effort into reducing health barriers for underrepresented populations.
Cognitive abilities play a decisive role in people’s daily life activities. With the global population getting older, cognitive illnesses in the elderly become a significant concern for health care professionals. In particular, dementia as a cognitive impairment manifested through difficulty learning and memorizing is prevalent in the older population of patients, which necessitates nurses’ awareness of its manifestations and treatment methods. Since the illness impacts many aspects of human life, interdisciplinary interventions are pivotal for successful management. The choice of culturally appropriate health care practices, such as psychotherapy, physical activity, memory, and self-maintenance therapy will ensure successful nursing assistance for patients with dementia.
Camic, P., Zeilig, H., & Crutch, S. (2018). The arts and dementia: emerging directions for theory, research and practice. Dementia, 17(3), 641-644.
Fox, S., FitzGerald, C., Dening, K. H., Irving, K., Kernohan, W. G., Treloar, A., Oliver, D., Guerin, S., & Timmons, S. (2018). Better palliative care for people with dementia: Summary of interdisciplinary workshop highlighting current gaps and recommendations for future research. BMC Palliative Care, 17(1), 1-11.
Giezendanner, S., Monsch, A. U., Kressig, R. W., Mueller, Y., Streit, S., Essig, S., Zeller, A., & Bally, K. (2019). General practitioners’ attitudes towards early diagnosis of dementia: A cross-sectional survey. BMC Family Practice, 20(1), 1-9.
Jackson, J., Ware, C., Churchyard, R., & Hanseeuw, B. (2020). Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives: On the road to a holistic approach to dementia prevention and care. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports, 4(1), 39-48.
Kratz, T. (2017). The diagnosis and treatment of behavioral disorders in dementia. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 114(26), 447.
Li, G., Thabane, L., Papaioannou, A., Ioannidis, G., Levine, M. A., & Adachi, J. D. (2017). An overview of osteoporosis and frailty in the elderly. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18(1), 1-5.
Shu, S., & Woo, B. K. (2021). Use of technology and social media in dementia care: Current and future directions. World Journal of Psychiatry, 11(4), 109.