Free example research paper on Alzheimer’s Disease:
I chose to do my senior research project at a facility where my mom oversees the dementia unit. She works for Country Meadows Retirement Communities and travels to five of their eleven locations in Pennsylvania. The one closest to our home was the Country Meadows Living Center on Trindle Road in Mechanicsburg. I also have a personal interest to learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease because my grandfather, on my father’s side, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about three years ago.
Before volunteering at the Meadow’s Living Center (Meadow’s is the name they have chosen to call their dementia, secured units) my mom gave me information to read so that I would be familiar with some of the causes of dementia and also so that I would know what type of behaviors that I might encounter on the unit. The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in our country alone is staggering – 5 million! It is the fourth leading cause of death. There are over 75 different causes of dementia, which, the term dementia means “out of mind”. Doctors have difficulty diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease because there is no true test for it – they use a process of elimination to depression needs to be ruled out because it can cause short term memory problems, CAT scans are done to see for possible stroke activity but a CAT scan will not show the plaques and tangles that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, dehydration can cause confusion as well as poor nutrition.
The list can go on and on, so you can see how difficult it is to make an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms can actually appear 10 years before a diagnosis is made. Of course, there is a very strong genetic link to Alzheimer’s disease but that is not always the case. I also found out by walking in the Annual Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk that if cure is not found in the near future, 14 million baby boomers will have the disease4 within 50 years. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder that occurs gradually and results in memory loss, behavior and personality changes, and a decline in thinking abilities. Financially, this disease can drain a family of all their savings. Since it is considered a chronic debilitating disease with no cure, most long term health care policies will not cover nursing home or assisted living care. The average cost for an assisted living facility annually is $30,000.00 versus skilled nursing home care which is around $52,000.00 annually. So, you can see how draining this is without insurance to help alleviate the exorbitant costs.
My volunteer duties on the second floor of the Meadow’s Living Center included helping to set the tables for the meals and offering the residents meal choices. My favorite part of the day was reminiscing with the men. One, in particular, Harry, had very vivid recall of his World War II experiences. He told me he had nothing but bread and gravy to eat for 9 months or more. It amazes me how well their long term memory remains intact but their short term memory is totally gone. I had to reintroduce myself every time I went because they didn’t remember from week to week who I was. My grandfather is the same way, sometimes my name comes to him right away and other times it doesn’t. I have learned not to quiz him or anyone with dementia- it just frustrates them and makes them more aware of their losses when they don’t know the answer. I have great appreciation of the staff who work on the dementia unit day in and day out. You must have great patience and compassion. It is not unusual to be asked the same question over and over again. I have watched residents eat an entire meal within minutes claim to the staff that they never had a meal. The staff graciously gets them something light to eat rather than pointing out to them that they just saw them consume an entire hamburger, potato, salad, drink and desert. Some of their behaviors did make me uneasy. They can become angry, they sometimes soil themselves, they can be uneasy on their feet and at risk for falls – they generally forget their walkers and I or someone else would have to run after them to remind them. It upset me when their families would come to visit and they would not know who they were or they would get mad at them for not taking them home. Some of the residents get their days and nights mixed up, so you can understand how families reach a point where they can no longer keep them safe. Fortunately, my grandfather is still at home, but I know it is very straining on my grandmother. By volunteering at Country Meadows, I feel as though I have more compassion in dealing with my grandfather. I will continue to volunteer and help with the Memory Walk to raise money to help fight this fatal disease in the future.
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