How Family Nurse Practitioners Help Seniors with Dementia

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More than 55 million senior citizens worldwide are living with dementia, as per the World Health Organization. An estimated 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, as just one of many forms of dementia.

In the United States, the impact of dementia on the aging population is significant and concerning. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to a staggering 12.7 million, highlighting the urgent need for effective care strategies.

Additionally, Alzheimer’s ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, surpassing breast and prostate cancer. A recent study also revealed that the mortality rate of Alzheimer’s is five to six times higher than the official figure. This implies that this disorder may contribute to more than 500,000 deaths in America alone each year.

Behind the Statistics: Impact

It is crucial to recognize the impact of dementia on the quality of life for individuals and their families. The emotional toll is substantial, with over 11 million family members and friends providing unpaid care for people with various forms of dementia.

These caregivers often face immense challenges, including physical and emotional strain, financial burdens, and limitations in their own personal and professional lives.

Family Nurse Practitioners Provide Support

Their Practices Can Help You, Too!

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) do a wonderful job of improving the quality of life of individuals living with dementia. Their care requires unique skills, compassion, and a deep understanding of their needs.

By incorporating these expert tips into your own care, you can significantly impact the quality of life and well-being of your loved one. 

Communicate in a Way That Won’t Cause Distress

Dementia has a significant impact on the communication ability of individuals. Older people living with these brain disorders may feel distressed or sad when they cannot express themselves. They may have difficulty remembering or interpreting certain words.

Establishing a strong and trusting relationship with seniors affected by dementia is crucial. Take the time to get to know them well, showing empathy and understanding. Be patient and use effective communication techniques such as maintaining eye contact, using simple language, and giving ample time for responses.

By creating a therapeutic bond, you can better assess their needs and provide appropriate care.

FNPs strive to treat patients empathetically. You can use some of the same communication techniques, such as:

  • Smile and maintain direct one-on-one contact.
  • Do not argue or interrupt.
  • Deal with them patiently and offer assurance whenever they feel embarrassed or make a mistake.
  • Ask simple questions that can be answered with a yes or no to avoid confusion.
  • Speak with a calm voice.
  • Talk to them in disturbance-free environments.

Create a Routine With a Daily Care Plan

While it may seem trivial, creating a daily routine for people living with dementia is essential. A consistent daily routine can help a person with brain disorders maintain familiarity.

Before you make structured daily plans, knowing your the person for whom you care is important. You will have to consider their likes, dislikes, and abilities. You must also consider the time of the day they are productive and when they need rest or a break.

However, some changes are unavoidable, no matter what. All daily care plans include regular hours for getting up, bathing, eating meals, and going to bed, but what about enjoyment or leisure? Quality daily care plans will also include activities that are enjoyable for those living with dementia.

The best daily care plan has space for activities that connect them to their lives in the pre-dementia phase. Among them could be going for a walk, listening to their favorite podcast, or watching their favorite TV show.

Creating a simple and fun daily care plan is of utmost importance. By simplifying instructions and routines, caregivers can help reduce confusion and frustration, allowing individuals to actively participate in their care.

This promotes independence, boosts self-esteem, and minimizes feelings of overwhelm.

Incorporating enjoyable activities into the plan enhances engagement, stimulates positive emotions, and fosters social interaction. Not only does a simple and fun care plan benefit the care receiver’s well-being, but it also supports the mental and emotional health of caregivers, reducing stress and burnout.

Tailoring the plan to individual preferences and regularly adapting it ensures a positive and meaningful caregiving experience for all involved.

Is This a Career Path For You?

With the baby boomer generation reaching 65, it’s estimated that 7.1 million people will develop Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason, healthcare providers need to learn about new treatments and techniques for patients with all forms of dementia. That will also create a need for more trained professionals.

You may wish to pursue this area of study as a career, or you may already be a nurse and which to pursue this specialization.

Many nurses pursue the AGACNP degree program because it teaches them advanced methods to promote care that prioritizes patients. It also equips them with the knowledge of technology and information systems required to deliver transformative healthcare.

Needless to say, the degree program arms nurses with the skills needed to assess the healthcare needs of vulnerable patient groups. The best part? Many universities offer this course online. That means you can complete it while working as a full-time family nurse practitioner.

While the program completion length depends on the student’s selected track, Baylor University states that it takes between 18 and 24 months for MSN holders to complete a DNP-AGACNP program.

With gerontological training, you can capitalize on your hands-on caregiving experience and help to prepare others for end-of-life decisions when patients experience psychosis, hallucinations, depression, and memory loss.

Taking Care of Individuals With Dementia

Caring for people with dementia is certainly demanding but also very rewarding. With these tips, you can help to maintain quality of life. This can create a bond that is almost impossible to describe.

As people progress through the disorder, they experience a whirlwind of emotions. You may experience the same. Any time you feel stressed or disturbed due to your loved one’s deteriorating health, seek professional help. Addressing these stressful situations in time will help you avoid any issues in your personal and professional life.

With patience and a bit of compassion, rest assured you’ll make a world of difference in seniors’ lives. It is a journey to uplift the lives of those impacted by dementia, armed with knowledge, empathy, and determination to positively impact our communities.

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