Date of Paper/Work

5-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing

Department

Nursing

Advisor(s)

Teri Kiresuk

Abstract

There approximately 5.1 million Americans who may have Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This number is expected to increase with the increase in the aging population. Theories based on genetic and neuropathological findings suggest genetic mutations are responsible for AD. There are 7 stages of AD. The stages of disease are a reference on how the disease may progress, but not all stages are experienced by all persons with AD. AD can only be diagnosed by histopathologic examination of the brain there for clinical criteria are utilized for diagnosis. Clinical criteria include diagnostic tests such as laboratory and imaging studies, neuropsychological testing, mental status exam, and neurologic exam. The majority of persons with AD exhibit behavioral symptoms. Behavioral symptoms may include disruptive vocalization (screaming), restlessness, repetitive questions, wandering, pacing, and physical aggression toward self or others. Treatment of behavioral symptoms is challenging and a wide range of interventions are utilized by caregivers and health care professionals. Chemical and physical restraint utilization for behavioral symptoms can lead to a higher risk for falls. Family caregivers of AD patients have a high incidence of depression as consequence of caring for a person with dementia. Therapeutic touch is a non-pharmacologic intervention that has been minimally utilized for the treatment of behaviors seen in patients with AD. It has been found through research to decrease stress and anxiety, and to improve quality of life and emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Evidence has shown therapeutic touch does not cause patients any harm. An intensive review of the literature and studies on the use of therapeutic touch as an intervention to treat behavioral symptoms of AD indicates that it is appropriate for primary care givers to consider therapeutic touch therapy to treat behaviors of patients with AD.

Share

COinS