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