Alzheimer’s Disease and Its Affecting Factors

Table of Contents

Introduction

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a brain condition that leads to irreversible deterioration of cognitive capabilities in human beings (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015). This section evaluates the case of Catherine, who suffers from AD, by addressing various factors that are common to other affected people. Catherine’s cognitive abilities including memory, speech, judgment, and communication seem to have been affected. As she narrates her story, she reveals that she has been experiencing difficulties in recalling events to the extent of leaving kitchen appliances on. These symptoms indicate that Catherine is suffering from AD.

Causes

AD emanates from a combination of both internal and external factors such as genetic composition, lifestyle, and environmental aspects that affect the brain (Stern, 2006). The symptoms include “memory loss, poor judgment, trouble with reading, difficulties with planning or solving issues, confusion, withdrawal, and changes in personality among others” (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015, p. 78)

Age

Aging has been viewed as the predominant risk factor for AD. This assertion is supported by Catherine’s case who reports having started experiencing symptoms of AD at her old age. At about the age of 65, the danger of acquiring the symptoms of AD increases significantly (Katzman, 2008). A study conducted by Alzheimer’s Association (2015) notes that past the age of 85, the risk mounts up to about 50%. Family history is also a risk factor given that people who have a family member with AD are more likely to develop the symptoms of AD compared to those who do not have a family member with AD (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015).

Women are more likely to suffer from AD as compared to men. The risk factors leading to gender-related variations include life span and change in hormone level. Protein components that facilitate AD start to form largely after 50 years old and similar to the period when menopause and andropause commence (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2005). For instance, Catherine reports having had the symptoms at her old age.

Ethnic comparisons

In spite of the variations in data collection and understanding of race, the most visible results of analyzing this literature indicate that Hispanics, as well as African-Americans, are most affected as opposed to the whites. Research has identified social and cognitive engagement as a possible cause of these variations across races. Staying mentally and socially engaged may boost brain function and help reduce the risk of AD. Studies indicate that individuals with lower-level education are more vulnerable compared to those with advanced formal education (Dash & Villemarette-Pittman, 2005). For instance, in the US, non-whites have fewer years of formal education, and this aspect partly explains why they are at greater risk of developing AD than their white counterparts who have more years of formal education.

Communicating with Catherine and her family

As the primary therapist, one has to seek a medical and family history that explains Catherine’s symptoms. Besides, informed consent is necessary to brief Catherine and Linda about the importance of the services, risks factors, costs, and Catherine’s autonomy. A fruitful conversation relies on how well a relationship can be established. Even though Catherine seems to recognize her situation, it is hard to predict her reaction when addressing her conditions. Concerning legal considerations, it is relatively easy to begin the sessions since Linda, as a family member, serves as a legal agent.

It is necessary to provide evidence of information regarding millions of people living with a similar condition. The conversation should be slow to allow Catherine to form questions. An explanation should be provided to Catherine as to why symptoms are emerging and the discussion should be in a simple language.

In many cases, patients with AD suffer the lack of ability to communicate properly making it hard to gain informed consent from the patient (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2005). However, it is the work of the caregiver or the therapist to protect the interests of the client by consulting an immediate third party. A family member may serve as an appropriate third party. Confidentiality should also be given priority since every elder person has the right to expect that privacy issues will not be exposed (Wingo, 2012).

Reporting laws

Mandatory abuse reporting is expected in any case the older people are abused. The law demands that respect for patient’s autonomy and reporting for suspected abuse. All reports of abuse and negligence should be presented to the local Area Agency on Aging. Before handling Catherine’s case, the law requires reporting to the Department of Alzheimer Control and law enforcement. When the disease advances, patients are advised to seek help from an attorney to assign an individual to make decisions on behalf. The therapist should assist Catherine and Linda to acquire the power of the attorney. Consequently, Linda will make decisions in cases where Catherine is not in a position to do the same.

Assessing Catherine’s needs

Catherine can be said to be experiencing the intermediate stage since she exhibits symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Her forgetful condition presents a challenge to help improve her cognitive abilities. However, introducing a healthcare professional to provide medical treatments can be helpful. For Catherine’s case, it would be recommendable adapting Assistive Technology for Cognition (ATC). ATC is a technological measure that helps individuals with cognitive disabilities. This intervention approach can assist Catherine to activate memories, improve coping, and reduce stress.

Conclusion

Even though there is no proven procedure to curb AD, some approaches are worth adapting to the patient’s daily activities. These practices include consulting a therapist, staying mentally and socially active. The ethical and legal implications concerning helping the elderly have been viewed as restricting.

References

Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures: Includes a special report on disclosing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 11(3), 332–384.

Dash, P., & Villemarette-Pittman, N. (2005). Alzheimer’s disease. New York, NY: Demos.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2005). Memory bulletin 2005 edition. New York, NY: Medletter Associates.

Katzman, R. (2008). The Prevalence and Malignancy of Alzheimer Disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 4(6), 378-380.

Stern, Y. (2006). Cognitive Reserve and Alzheimer Disease. Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, 20(2), 112-117.

Wingo, T. (2012). Autosomal Recessive Causes Likely in Early-Onset Alzheimer Disease. Archives of Neurology, 69(1), 59-64.

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