fisch801: October 2011 Archives

Nursing homes and Memory

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On the days I'm not busy with school i work as a nursing assistant in Maple Plain. Many of my patients have suffered stokes and as a result have many difficulties they deal with on a daily basis. Many often forget who I am although they see me multiple times a shift. Certain patients have a harder time then others due to the location and severity of the stroke.
For example, Patients suffering a stroke in the right-hemisphere of their brain will be able to tell me all about fighting in World War II or how they met their husband, but will be unable to recall what they ate for dinner. (http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=EFFECT) In other words, Their retrieval of stored information is working properly but their ability to encode new information is flawed.
Some of my patients that have had strokes will also develop dementia. Dementia is "a loss of mental skills" and "can cause problems with your memory and how well you can think and plan." ( http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/tc/dementia-topic-overview) There are several different types of dementia and they affect different areas of the brain. For example Subcortical dementia effects emotions and movement as well as memory.
http://www.medicinenet.com/dementia_pictures_slideshow/article.htm#
Patient's that have dementia could also have developed it due to alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is actually a form of dementia. This disease is often the result of "When nerve cells (neurons) are destroyed, there is a decrease in the chemicals that help nerve cells send messages to one another (called neurotransmitters). As a result, areas of the brain that normally work together become disconnected." (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001767/)
It's often hard to watch a patient that you've become close with slowly loose their grasp of what's going on. In my time working, I've seen several residents have a slow decline in cognitive ability. there are those, though, who have suffered some sort of stroke or other brain injury that through physical therapy have been able to relearn their basic living skills and be able to return home to their families.

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