Because all of our care managers are nurses with extensive backgrounds in geriatric health, they are skilled in assessing cognitive health and can recognize and evaluate subtle and insidious changes that may be an early sign of dementia. They are also trained to recognize an acute mental condition, referred to as delirium, which can commonly be confused with dementia. Unlike dementia, many of the cognitive symptoms of delirium are highly treatable and can be reversed if the causes are identified. Common causes of delirium in older populations include:
- Certain medications or drug toxicity
- Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal
- Certain medical conditions
- Metabolic imbalances, such as low sodium or low calcium
- Acute, chronic or terminal illness
- Fever and acute infection
- Exposure to a toxin
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Sleep deprivation
- Severe emotional distress
- Surgery or other medical procedures that include anesthesia
In addition to conducting a thorough physical exam, our nurses are skilled in the use of screening tools such as the Mini-Mental State Exam and The Geriatric Depression Scale to assess cognition, memory and mood. These observations and evaluations can be of great value to the client’s primary medical provider in identifying memory and mood issues and tracking their course in response to treatments.
If a client receives a diagnosis of dementia, our care managers are highly experienced in helping those with memory loss continue to lead lives of purpose. By getting to know our clients intimately, we are able to find solutions unique to their specific situation. This may include assembling a home care team with a special knowledge of memory care or finding a living situation that will keep them engaged in life while meeting their day-to-day needs.