Frankie William Y. Lee
The goal of this assessment is to promote a level of awareness towards geriatric patients or the elderly in terms of giving them a proper health care, encourage a support group in accordance to what kind of condition they are having whether it is by physical, mental, social, and psychological or be spiritual. This is also for the purpose of giving the society an understanding and the attitude towards the elderly. This paper also aims to work as a tool/support not only to the elderly especially those who are facing dementia conditions but also for the family, love ones, to the caregivers and to those who don’t have a background or understanding about the said condition.
There are many different conditions that you are going to face when you reach a certain age in life especially when you are considered to be old and elderly, it may be physical, mental, and psychological or it may be spiritual. Most of these conditions such as heart attack, incontinence, fall or disability in balance, malnutrition, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and many more can affect almost all elderly worldwide. One of the leading conditions is dementia.
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Dementia is a syndrome, chronic by nature, progression may be slow depending on case to case basis. It affects the brain especially the person’s way of thinking, behavioural activities, and activities of the daily living. It shows in the WHO data and statistics that 47.5 million people worldwide are suffering from dementia and it is expected to increase by 75.6 million by 2030, threefold by 2050.
Dementia is not only a deadly condition that affects the person but it can also affect the family members, love ones, caregivers who takes care of that person. There is also a concern in regards to the awareness level and understanding of people with dementia that may lead to stigmatization and it may result to a discrepancies in giving proper diagnosis, treatment and other methods of care to persons with dementia.
There are many types of dementia, namely vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia where in it affects mostly the person’s way of thinking, behaviour and memory. It is a chronic and progresses slowly in time and it depends on how the condition may be treated to control the disease. The most known risk factor is the person’s age, some sources says there are instances where in the condition starts at 40 to 50 due to the lifestyle of the person but 65 is the most common age of the onset of the syndrome.
- Support Organizations for older people
Grey power is an organization where in its focus is mainly on the super annuitants. Grey power’s goal is directed for the sole purpose of heling and supporting the elderly especially those with geriatric conditions and also to oppose any barriers that may hinder the elderly people’s rights and security.
One of the greatest help an elderly can acquire from this organization are basic treatments such as hearing aids for elderly with hearing problems, surgeries wherein they are the ones shouldering the cost, equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and many more.
Age concern is another charitable organization founded September 09, 1948. One of its goals is to make sure that elderly people will have an equal advantages or rights that can promote to their wellbeing and security. Age concern’s biggest achievement is that their focus is mainly family oriented. They want to support the elderly people in such a way that they are still attached to their love ones, they are being valued, respected, and being embraced in a warm welcome, especially in New Zealand.
Alzheimer New Zealand
Alzheimer New Zealand is a voluntary organization that advocates those with dementia in New Zealand. Their mission is to spread issues concerning people with dementia to important private and government sector, to address to them the concerns of people with dementia. Alzheimer New Zealand has a vision in which they want to share the stories, real life experiences of what is like to live life with dementia, raising and promoting awareness among the people and encouraging them to join and also share their stories.
Abbeyfield’s concept was introduced in 1991 by a local who travelled the United Kingdom for research on how older people live their lives, specifically housing conditions. The focus of the trip was to search for home and living conditions for the increasing number of older people, housing and caring for them.
Deaf Aotera New Zealand
The ultimate focus of Deaf Aotera New Zealand from the name of the organization itself is to help and support elderly with hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the common aging health problem for the elderly which motivated an association of New Zealand to create a support group for the elderly with hearing conditions. The organization was founded because there were no signs of language interpreters back then.
Health and Disability Advocacy Service
This organization was founded in 1996 and it is owned by a private sector separate from the government. The mission of this organization is to ensure that equality among the elderly is practiced and by giving them the rights, to make them feel secured by listening to their concerns and by giving them enough information about services that are being offered to them whether it be about health benefits, insurances and such in order for them to live a fulfilling life.
- Healthcare Providers
Dieticians are essential to the elderly as they are the ones who controls the nutrition and recommended levels of minerals needed by the elderly. Special diets like diabetic diet, diet for older persons who are having a hard time chewing because of the lack of teeth or they are having a difficult time swallowing the food due to the lack of muscle flexibility in their mandible . Dieticians are also the ones who are developing or the ones making lifestyle modifications needed by the elderly based on what kind of diet, weight of the patient, nutritional levels and based on those factors, the dietician will be able to formulate a lifestyle that can properly manage and help the elderly. Proper exercises and activities and such things are also of the responsibilities of a dietician.
One of the biggest health concern when you are old is that your body is not what is used to be when you are younger. Bone disorders and muscle deterioration is very much expected when you are old. Physiotherapists are important addition to the health care team since they are the ones managing the daily activities of the elderly, what kind of exercises ranging from head to toe exercises whether it be aerobic or non-aerobic in order for the elderly to cope up with different muscles, bones and range of motion changes in their body that may be able to help them prevent from falling or any injury.
Another essential member of the healthcare team is the pharmacist. They are the ones handling the pharmacological intervention of the elderly patients. Dispensing and supplying proper medications prescribe by the physicians as one of their important roles and also supplying them the proper information on how the drug works that can help them, contraindication, side effects and indication of a certain drug. How to take the drug, when to take, what to avoid and the proper dosage the patient should receive. The pharmacist should also ensure that the medication is of quality and is not expired and for them to know the updates because of the fact that medications and treatments so far are evolving, so they must attend seminars to keep them updated.
Counsellors may become the very backbone of the healthcare team because of the fact that they are the ones assessing the emotional and spiritual aspect of the elderly because of the fact that some of the elderly patients are emotionally down and effected by old age, some tend to isolate themselves, drowning in depression and such, so counsellors will by far take place as the leading role in the health care team. Establishing rapport as the main focus, guidance, and forming a strong relationship with the patient. Counsellors must maintain confidentiality at all times unless it will be for the benefit of the elderly.
A medical doctor or a general practitioner who will be the ones in charge of giving assessments, diagnosing, giving proper treatment and coordination to the health care team without regards of age and gender. In New Zealand, general practitioners usually works in diagnostic centres, clinic, and community health centres. They usually take in acute, chronic, non-life threatening conditions that cannot be treated by normal means. General practitioners are most commonly sub divided into different roles, a medical doctor which will first hand assess the patient, a specialized doctor that can focus on a specialized disease that cannot be handled by a medical doctor alone, others include surgical doctors, family doctors, and many more.
Dementia as a leading condition faced by many elderly patients, a dementia specialist will come in to give proper support and interventions pertaining to the care that is needed by elderly patients with dementia. Services given by a Dementia specialist is very much appreciated because of the fact that they know how to handle patients experiencing dementia and what is needed to be done in order to help those patients.
According to oxford dictionary, Stigma is defined as “a curse, a mark of disgrace associated with a specified condition, the quality of a person whether he or she is mentally stable or mentally unstable.” A stigma is like indeed a mark that makes a person unwanted by society or even his/her love ones. A particular feeling of being rejected, of being left behind with no purpose at all in life. The feeling of being undesired, discriminated and most of all it is related to most old age with dementia. Stigma of patients with dementia tends to become worst over time and most of the time they cannot take care of themselves and tend to rely to others to support them.
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According to Mayoclinic.org Dementia is defined as “an unspecified disease, it is a condition where in there is a group of symptoms that affects mainly the sensory function of the brain, the thinking and behaviour of a person and there social abilities as well that makes it harder for a person with dementia to perform activities of the daily living.” A person with this kind of disease tends to be dependent with others as they can’t perform their daily task and activities in life and because dementia mainly affects the cognitive and motor part of the brain. Sensory functions declines over time, behavioural patterns changes as the condition worsens, thinking and personality changes as well.
Raising awareness and sharing of right information can be a good solution for the family, friends, relatives and to the people as well because it may lessen the stigma of patients with dementia. This goal is achievable with the help of the government and local authorities. Agencies can start a campaign or focus a better support group in order to raise the understanding of the society, to change the way of thinking of the public towards the condition called dementia. Having a little understanding or knowledge about dementia can greatly give you a little thought, misconceptions and you tend to give misfortune that may affect the person involved.
Social Isolation of the individual and their family
Elder people tend to be isolated from the community, society and worst of all to their family as well because of the stigma. Persons with these conditions may have a few or no social life at all, because of the fact that their stigma makes it hard for them to stay in a group or socialize with other people, even with their, family as well, that’s why in order for them to feel wanted by their family and the community, local authorities or support group can make an event or community activities where in it could involve elderly with dementia. It could be a slow process of acceptance but it can greatly involve family members to accept their love ones, the society to raise their understanding towards to the said disease. The local government could also help by eventually starting a movement that could battle the social stigma of patients with dementia.
Assumption of automatic loss of independence
Diagnosing dementia is a must and sure fire way of helping the elderly cope up with life because they tend to become more and more frustrated and depress all the time. Early prevention can be done with the help of a dementia specialist and support of the family as well. A patient suffering from this condition may also become suspicious of the people around them, they become paranoid of their surroundings which is why one big help or solution is to raise certain awareness level to the public in order for them to have a little knowledge of what is going on with the mind of an elderly with dementia. Having no concern with these kind of disease may bring a lot of negative issues and might arise a lot of misfortunes to the elderly with dementia.
Unable to make decisions about own care
Dementia is like an all-rounder condition where in it affects the person’s way of thinking, memory, behavioural patterns, personality changes and almost all body functions stop on a certain stage. If it makes it difficult for a normal elderly to take care of him/herself, how about to an elderly with a dementia and having a stigma where in it will really makes it harder for them to cope with life. Most of the times elderly with dementia should be placed under care or supervision as they are dependent and can’t take care on their own. The reality of these patients with dementia is almost close to nothing as they tend to become empty, like a vessel without any life at all especially in the late stage where in they just tend to wander around, staring at little things they see, they can’t even recognize easy things to remember and their family members as well. The family members at the latter stages plays an important role as they are the ones who will decide on the legal documents that is entitled to the patient because the patient can no longer make a sensible decision on that kind of decisions. The family must also know the scope, signs, everything about the disease because it will help them understand the condition better and will make them cope up easier than nothing at all.
Dissatisfying interactions with the medical community
The medical health team plays a big role in helping patients with dementia as they are the ones supplying proper treatment and information to the family members. They should be able to form a proper relationship with the family because they are the ones who will help provide proper information to the family on how to take care of their elderly with dementia, coping mechanisms and such things like community support. Coordination and proper information dissemination is a must to achieve an optimum level of care to the elderly patients.
Uncertainty of support services and treatments
Dementia is progressive by nature and there is a slow degrading of brain functions. Behaviour, memory and way of thinking are the primary functions that is affected by dementia. Family members should be well informed about the disease as they are considered to be the primary support for the patient and they must be well coordinated with the health care team so that they can give the best level of care that they can provide to the patient. Special support and needs should also be provided.
Dementia patients tends to be isolated from the community because they think that they are different from others. They feel unwanted and undesired which in turn effects their emotional status. They developed depression and they feel so alone. That is why, the concept or the perception towards dementia should be changed in order for the social stigma to lessen. Family support plays a big role in this case.
Dementia is a group of syndrome that affects mainly the brain function of a person especially the memory, thinking and behavioural patterns of a person. Persons with this disease tends to think that they are alone, depress all the time, and suspicious to their environment. They have a problem with society which in turn they develop social stigma. Family members, members of the health care team which consists of general practitioners, health care assistant, specialist, pharmacist and even counsellors could help a patient with dementia. Even though these patients with dementia cannot think and do anything for themselves, become dependent to others, they should be treated carefully and equally with security in order for them to feel loved.
I highly recommend the local government, support group, agencies and even the people could help raise awareness level to the condition called dementia because of the fact that these patients are also human and must be treated with proper care in order for them not lose their dignity and they will not feel left out on their community. The society must not also be ignorant on these kind of issues and should help out one another to give proper support to people with dementia.
I hope my assessment could be used as a guide and can help raise certain level of awareness to the community that could help them open their mind to this disease.
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