The neurological disease I will be discussing this week is amnesia. Amnesia is a memory disorder where those who suffer from it have trouble remembering recent events, creating new memories, or both. Though similar, amnesia and dementia are not the same. In addition to the types of amnesia presented in the text (retrograde, anterograde, global), other types of amnesia include traumatic, dissociative, and infantile. The causes of amnesia are neurological and functional. Neurological amnesia is caused by numerous brain illnesses, damage, infections, or other medical factors. Functional reasons for amnesia are frequently tied to psychiatric or emotional trauma. Amnesia that is the result of a neurological infection or diseases will require treatment for that medical cause. Functional amnesia is often treated with therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, or occupational therapy. Nursing interventions for amnestic disorders include encouraging the expression of feelings, reminiscing events with patients, and assisting with memory deficit.
I am really interested in this phenomenon called “sundowning” which is seen with people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. As mentioned in our chapter 16 lecture this occurs in the latter part of the day and patients in the ICU or memory care units of assisted living or nursing homes can get irritable, confused, anxious, and even aggressive. According to the Mayo Clinic, the exact cause is unknown but there are several factors that can contribute to it and several nursing interventions. Some things that can lead to sundowning or late date confusion include fatigue, being bored, pain, and depression. Some ways to prevent and manage sundowning include not letting the person be overstimulated late in the day, limiting caffeine to mornings, and limiting naps, especially later in the day. It seems that proper sleep hygiene with routine and winding down in the evenings is especially important. My takeaway from this is that both depression and boredom need to be addressed while making sure to have restful afternoons and wind down in the evening. There also must be careful attention to counteract situations where the person has faced unfamiliar people and places. One should be careful to have lights that don’t produce pronounced shadows that can be confusing to a person with dementia and to make sure they are not experiencing pain or have an infection like a UTI.