Feb 7th, 2017
Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s can be shocking to many caregivers, but there are other behavioral side effects, like psychosis, that can be just as frightening.
The onset of psychosis is quite common among patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. A recent meta-analysis showed that more than 40 percent had psychotic symptoms, which led to faster functional impairment and increased mortality risk. Here are three defining factors to understand and share while educating caregivers and staff:
1. Psychotic Symptoms
The American Geriatric Society (AGS) suggests that psychosis occurring for the first time in later life is often due to dementia or neurologic conditions such Parkinson’s disease or stroke, as opposed to a primary psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. Delirium that occurs as a result of dehydration, medication toxicity or pain is a common cause of abrupt behavioral health challenges in patients with dementia, and must be considered as part of the evaluation process.
2. Older Adult Psychosis Risk Factors
Discerning and managing psychotic symptoms among elderly patients and residents can be challenging for healthcare professionals and accelerate caregiver burnout. Knowing whether the warning signs are related to Alzheimer’s or dementia, a medication reaction or potential drug interaction, or even late-onset schizophrenia remains key in developing a comprehensive, safe treatment plan.
Here are the major risk factors for developing psychosis among elderly adults:
3. Top Five Management Factors
Staff Education Tip:
The month of February highlights Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiver education, recognizing the importance of sharing warning signs, symptoms and risk factors for psychosis with behavioral health staff. Since identifying and effectively managing the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia requires careful and comprehensive evaluation, consider dedicating time to talk with and educate staff about the issues of late onset psychosis outlined in this article. Use the American Geriatric Society’s helpful guide and remember to anchor discussions around the following five areas:
1. The patient’s symptoms,
2. The patient’s comfort,
3. The care environment,
4. The needs of the caregiver(s), and
5. The degree of distress of all those involved in the patient’s life.
For questions and concerns about patients or residents showing signs on psychosis, call Oceans for support. We can help with multipronged strategies that safely and effectively optimize care for patients and their support network.
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