Recognizing Changes in Mental Status: What it means, What to do

Published On: September 8th, 2011By Categories: Blog

Caregivers in Green House Project homes should be aware of changes in elders’ cognition status and act preemptively to address possible underlying causes rather than simply blaming dementia.
That was a lesson delivered at fourth annual Green House Project Meeting and Celebration in Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 8 by Anna Treinkman in an education session called “Recognizing Changes in Mental Status: What it means, What to do!”
Treinkman — a registered nurse and advanced practice nurse at the Rush University Medical Center’s Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center — urged session attendees to “think like a detective” when an elder’s altered mental status is noted.
“A sudden change in mental status is always a red flag,” she said.
Signs and symptoms such as wandering, apathy and anxiety can indicate an acute illness such as a urinary tract infection or drug side effects rather than dementia, she said.
Finally, Treinkman led the group in a discussion of several case studies to determine how to respond to situations that might arise in a Green House.
— By Joseph Popiolkowski, special to the Green House Project Blog