"Act on Dementia"- Thoughts

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"Act on Alzheimer's Disease" website features many practical resources geared towards a variety of audiences including healthcare practitioners, local communities, caregivers, and individuals living with some form of dementia. I found their curriculum modules very informative and it built upon my pre-existing knowledge of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other forms of dementia.

A challenge for clinicians today is the difficulty in discerning between features of normal aging versus AD. Because AD often has an insidious onset it is often not diagnosed until a later stage in the disease process. Many other conditions may be related to cognitive and behavioral changes. Therefore, prior to making a diagnosis a prudent clinician should consider other etiologies such as hypothyroidism, B12 deficiency, brain tumors, hepatic encephalopathy, and many more. 

Who is affected by AD? Approximately one in nine elders 65+ have AD. More women are affected versus men. However, this increased prevalence may be associated with the fact that women live longer than men. Other demographic groups are more prone to developing AD these include African-Americans and Hispanic races. 

AD has a far-reaching effect. Those living with this illness often have multiple problems and in general, poorer health outcomes compared to those without. Caregivers of AD also experience a high degree of physical, emotional, and financial strain due to the challenges of providing care. Healthcare workers in facilities treating AD patients also experience similar burnout symptoms and there is a high rate of recidivism. AD also has societal impact with Medicare payments for people with AD and other dementias expected to reach 1.2 trillion dollars by 2050.

How can the adverse effects of AD be countered? Successful interventions to manage AD include education, environmental surveillance, standardized screening tools, and peer support. Integrating these elements into proactive policy promote an empowered community equipped to handle the multi-faceted effects of AD.

Something I wrote based on a dementia patient I encountered during my home health care rotation . . .

The Ballad of Al

Come listen to a story ‘bout a man named Al—
Born in the Bronx, son of a Belgian baker
Exposed to diversity in a melting pot
Oh, he had lots of fun abound
Roving through his stomping grounds
Skipping school missing roll call
Playing ball

After 50 plus years of laboring, he sure deserves a hand
Been working in the postal service, keeping mail neatly in a row
Al has seen a lot of changes in the land
So much is changed that he used to do by hand
Tracking every mail order- detailed records he would keep
He’s made so many deliveries he could do it in his sleep

A well-lived life Al reminisces melancholy and blue
Love of country propelled him into World War II
After the War he married a dame, oh, she was a sweetheart!
Now she has passed and they are apart
Al headed out west
But he’ll always remember the best

Al has cricks and aches
Darn CHF!
Dang hand shakes!
But never laments, he’s not one to forsake
Al is quick to crack a joke and greets all with a smile
You can count on Al to help; he always goes the extra mile

Al scratches his head sometimes he forgets
To take his meds, to pay his debt
But, oh well, if they want to make a report
They can just take him to court!
He’s lost his car
And now can’t stray too far

Give a hand to Al he deserves a rest
After having given his very best

Come listen to a story ‘bout a man named Al—