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Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. There is currently no cure for the disease which worsens as it progress to fatality. Initial symptoms of Alzheimer's are mistaken for age related decreases in cognition or problems caused by stress, the most common being short term memory loss. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings, language based problems and long term memory loss.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a “general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life (alz.org, 2014). Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. It is important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, “although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older” (alz.org, 2014).
The disease is particularly brutal for family members of someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As the diagnosed person’s disease progressed they often withdraw from family and society while their bodily functions gradually decrease over time.
Alzheimer’s has unique problems when working with EHRs and other health IT related technologies due to HIPPA laws that focus on data ownership and privacy.
Statistics say that “at least 42% of individuals who have assisted living are afflicted with some sort of dementia” (Leventhal, 2014). And in the past, there have been many cases against assisted living facilities that lack proper training or protocol when it comes to handling senior citizens, leading to an increase in governmental regulation. Electronic health record platforms have the “potential to provide the tools needed to better manage regulatory changes” to allow families the peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are being taken care of (Leventhal, 2014).
Currently, nurses spend an average of 2 hours bedside with the patient to every 6 hours working on medical charts. By successfully implementing EHRs in these types of facilities, the quality of care will vastly improve while following increasingly strict regulation. The problem with this approach are some nurses are resistant to change and some flat out refuse to switch to an electronic system. Thankfully, a new generation of nurses are slowly entering the field who are competent in the use of computers, allowing for EHR adoption. The adoption of EHRs in senior care facilities will require training across all team members who provide any level of care, however. The training is “more about making sure that we’re using consistent language, especially in the healthcare centers (Leventhal).
Leventhal, R (July 10, 2014). EHRs Beyond the Hospital and Doctor’s Office: One Assisted Living Community’s Story.
Alzheimer’s Association (2014). What Is Alzheimer’s?
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