4 Reasons Why Assessment is Essential for People with Dementia

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • It used to be that if you were diagnosed with a dementia such as Alzheimer's, your management would be aimed at palliative care. Assessment, rather than being used to confirm deteriorating skills, was used to propel those affected towards services that increased their dependency. Today, things are different. Assessments are used to target medications that can help people with Alzheimer's. Assessments are used to determine and direct dynamic active treatments and rehabilitation services to maximize independence and good quality of life.


    Assessment for an Accurate Diagnosis

    The first and most important assessment is to get an accurate diagnosis of the signs and symptoms that have been causing problems and anxiety for the person and their family. There are many different types of dementia and diseases that can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer's. The term dementia refers to a group of symptoms that accompany certain diseases or conditions, such as Alzheimer's. Some types of dementia are reversible while others can lead to more permanent states of dementia. Early diagnosis from a well managed assessment will mean treatment can commence as quickly as possible. Early diagnosis also gives the person with the disease time to arrange their financial and legal affairs and to discuss with their family and their doctors their hopes and wishes. For example;

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    Living wills and Advanced directives

    Burial and Memorial Planning

    Do Not Resuscitate


    Assessment for Memory Enhancing Medications

    Doctors will assess the appropriateness of giving medication that temporarily slows the progress of Alzheimer's disease in some people. There is no cure for the disease. A number of medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration are available. Cholinesterase inhibitors generally used to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's and   N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists, used in the treatment of moderate -to-severe Alzheimer's. After prescribing a drug doctors will then assess and monitor their response to it. The medications can have side effects too that need to be assessed.  


    Assessment of Caregiver Needs

    Caregivers have a hard job that can be very demanding, very stressful and may even result in ill health (mental and physical). Two types of assessment are often necessary. First, assessment of the caregiver's own health and wellbeing and secondly assessment of what services they need to look after the person with Alzheimer's. Caregivers have been shown to neglect their own health needs. Caregivers go to their doctors for their own health problems 50% more often than non caregivers, they receive 70% more prescribed medicines than non caregivers, they go to hospital or the emergency room 25% more than non-caregivers. They also suffer with the effects of stress including high blood pressure, heart disease, and suffer emotional problems that include anger, despair, hopelessness, guilt and depression.


    Good assessment of services required to support the role of the caregiver can improve the quality of life for them and the person with Alzheimer's and can prevent premature admission into a nursing home. Assessing need will include issues of funding and costing care needs, personal care in the home, meal services and respite care needs. Fundamental to that is identifying the level of the person with dementia's level of functioning.


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    Assessment for Suitability of Day/Residential/ Nursing Home Care

    Assessments will be made on mobility, mental health status, skills, financial means to pay for care with the care home facilities, the levels of care they offer and relocation and State availability. The proportion of people with dementia living in care homes rises with age-27% of those aged between 65 to 74 rises to 61% for those over 90 years of age.


    Good assessments should mean that people with dementias such as Alzheimer's 

     are matched successfully in their future placement.


    More Information

    Making the Transition from Assisted Living to a Nursing Home 



Published On: October 15, 2010