Dementia is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that affect the brain. It can be difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure, but there are ways in which it can be managed effectively.
If you are caring for someone who has dementia or know someone affected by the condition, it is essential to understand what role an AGPCNP-qualified nurse plays in dementia care.
What Is Dementia?
According to WebMD, dementia is a disorder of the brain that causes difficulties with memory, thinking, and behavior. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for up to 60% to 80% of all cases. Other types include vascular dementia and Lewy body disease.
Dementia affects around 55 million people worldwide, according to estimates by the World Health Organization(WHO). There are 10 million new cases of the syndrome added every year. It is currently the seventh leading cause of death and a major cause of dependency and disability in older people.
The Current State of Dementia Care in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, there are approximately 5.8 million people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It includes 5.6 million aged 65 or older and 200,000 under 65 with early onset of the syndrome.
This number is expected to increase dramatically in the next few decades, with the number reaching 14 million by 2060.
Dementia care has become an increasingly important area for nurses because of its prevalence among older adults and the rising demand for specialized expertise in caring for patients with this condition.
As nursing shortages worsen across all areas of healthcare delivery systems worldwide, more nurses will need advanced education to provide safe and effective care for those suffering from cognitive impairment secondary to aging or other causes.
Role of an AGPCNP -Qualified Nurse in Primary Care Nursing Practice
AGPCNP stands for adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. The role of an AGPCNP-qualified nurse, including their training and specialized knowledge in adult-gerontology primary care nursing practice, is to provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary care to patients with dementia.
Doctorate AGPCNP programs educate nurses in dementia care and the use of evidence-based practices. These programs also provide advanced clinical practice skills such as:
- Assessment and diagnosis of complex health conditions.
- Collaboration with other members of the healthcare team.
- Intervention planning is based on the best evidence.
- Communication with patients/families/caregivers about treatment plans.
- Documentation according to clinical protocols.
- Education regarding self-management strategies that promote independence while reducing risk factors associated with poor outcomes such as hospitalization or institutionalization.
AGPCNP Nurse’s Role in Assessing and Managing Dementia Symptoms
AGPCNP nurses are expected to be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of dementia. They should be able to recognize the early stages of dementia and refer patients for further assessment if necessary.
They are also expected to assess patients who may have a higher risk of developing dementia, such as older people or those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The assessments may include the following:
- Taking a detailed history from family members.
- Performing cognitive tests.
- Observing how the patient interacts with others.
- Checking whether he/she has any other health problems that could affect his/her mental state (e.g., depression).
The Nurse’s Role in Developing and Implementing a Care Plan
An AGPCNP-qualified nurse will play a vital role in developing and implementing a care plan for patients with dementia.
Their responsibilities include:
- Developing strategies to support daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and feeding that are appropriate to their stage of illness.
- Preventing falls and injuries by identifying hazards in the home environment, such as loose rugs or sharp edges on furniture.
- Ensuring adequate nutrition and hydration by promoting regular meals with nutritious food choices.
The Nurse’s Role in Collaborating with Other Healthcare Providers
As a healthcare provider, the nurse must work with other healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive the care they need. This collaboration can include social workers and occupational therapists, as well as physicians. The nurse will also likely be working with families of patients who have dementia.
The nurse’s role in collaborating with other healthcare providers includes:
- Advising on patient care plans that are developed by a team approach
- Providing education about dementia for both the patient and family members
- Encouraging patients’ participation in activities outside of their home environment
The Impact of the AGPCNP Nurse’s Role on Patient Outcomes
While the role of an AGPCNP nurse in dementia care is not to cure or treat patients, it does significantly impact patient outcomes. These include improved quality of life, reduced hospitalizations, and increased satisfaction with care.
The AGPCNP nurse has a unique and important role in providing care for patients with dementia. They are trained in adult-gerontology primary care nursing practice and have specialized knowledge that allows them to assess and manage symptoms of this condition.
The AGPCNP nurse is also able to collaborate with other healthcare providers, including physicians, social workers, and occupational therapists who may be involved in providing care for patients with dementia.
This type of collaboration is essential because it allows all parties involved to work together towards achieving positive outcomes such as improved quality of life, reduced hospitalizations, and increased satisfaction with care.