As the world population lives longer, the incidence of dementia is increasing. A large number of elderly people suffer from this disease, and health care professionals need to be prepared to deal with their needs. According to The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, as a result of our aging population, age-related conditions have become more prevalent across the community. After excluding other common reversible causes of cognitive impairment, four clinical dementia syndromes account for 90% of all cases.
As these diseases become increasingly common in the U.S., nursing professionals who specialize in caring for older patients are in great demand. As an adult-geriatric nurse practitioner (AGNP), one of their core responsibilities is developing nursing care plans for dementia patients. Obtaining an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), can help nurse practitioners (NPs) strengthen their skills and expand their abilities to positively impact dementia patients’ lives.
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What Is The First Step In Caring For Dementia Patients?
The first step in developing nursing plans for dementia patients is to enroll in an advanced degree program in geriatric nursing specializing in caring for older people.
An AGNP is trained in dealing with patients and their families and providing them comfort. It doesn’t matter if they earn their degrees traditionally or online; many reputable institutes, such as William Patterson University, ensure their students are equipped with the skills necessary for provisioning high-quality care. The online AGNP program by WPUNJ provides graduates with the tools to deal with dementia, beginning with logical guidelines to develop dementia plans and progressing to helping the family members of the patients understand the new needs as their loved one goes through the stages of the disease.
Nursing Care Plans for Dementia Patients
Dementia is characterized by a decline in reasoning, communication, and memory skills, as well as a progressive loss of skills needed for daily living. A nursing care plan for dementia patients can be challenging because of the effects of the illness and nursing professionals can face challenges during care. However, as a caregiver, it is important to remain flexible and keep activities interesting for patients with these medical problems.
Developing this plan requires the following steps:
1. Taking stock of the situation.
A nurse practitioner should talk to patients about the changes they are going through with them or their family members and understand how they feel about their circumstances.
2. Team building.
Nurses are not the only team members; family or friends who may be responsible for the patient’s care can also contribute. Everyone must be on the same page to provide the patient with the care he or she needs.
3. Finding out what a patient’s needs are.
Patients have individual needs. To develop a plan tailored to patients’ needs, NPs must understand their history and diagnosis.
4. Planning a strategy.
With the information collected in the preceding steps, NPs can design a care plan that caregivers will follow. This plan will include notes describing what has been identified and the specifics for each patient.
5. Implementing the plan.
Creating a care plan for a person with dementia is only the first step. Taking action based on the plan and coordinating efforts is necessary to help the patient receive the care they need.
The Alzheimer’s Association advises caregivers to consider the following aspects when planning:
- An understanding of the patient’s interests, likes, and dislikes, along with their abilities
- Before being diagnosed with the illness, how did the patient structure their day
- Patients function best at certain times of the day
- When they wake up and when they go to sleep
- Meals, dressing, and bathing within a reasonable amount of time
By establishing a nursing plan for a patient, the NP brings structure to their lives. Patients can cope better with their day-to-day activities when they have a regular schedule. An AGNP has been trained in developing nursing care plans for individuals with dementia and can use this knowledge to help the individual live a fuller, more satisfying life.
How Are Nurse Practitioners Prepared to Care for Patients with Dementia?
Those Nurse Practitioners focusing on adult and geriatric care must have a specific skill set to succeed in their jobs. AGNPs need to show compassion and understanding to their patients. Furthermore, they need to be patient with their charges as they adjust to a new lifestyle, as they may feel vulnerable and lash out.
AGNPs must have the emotional stability to partner with their patients during their time of need. A strong sense of decision-making is essential to ensure that plans are implemented and followed. AGNPs must communicate well because their patients may find it difficult to express themselves, and it is up to these nurses to help them.
The daily schedules of AGNPs are similar to those of other nurses. They order and interpret diagnostic tests, manage diseases, and administer medicine to patients. An AGNP’s day is unique in that they are focused on educating caregivers and patients on how to cope with the limitations dementia may place on them. In addition, they offer emotional support to caregivers and patients.
Besides state laws, AGNP is governed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nurse practitioners can become certified by the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association as specialists in the field of geriatrics.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are rising. The numbers are expected to double every 20 years, from 47 million people in 2015 to 75 million by 2030 and 131 million by 2050.
Whether you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia, managing and coping with this disease can be challenging. You may not want to address the problem head-on, but it is important to do so as soon as possible because it will give you confidence as you move forward.
In addition, Dementia can also be heavy on the families of those affected. People who are close to those suffering from dementia bear a psychological scar for life. Although they can’t cure their loved ones, they can certainly ease their pain by getting the right support. An AGnp nurse has the skills necessary for creating a dementia care plan. They can help ensure that your loved one lives to the fullest extent possible.