Alzheimer’s as a Chronic Illness: Patient Interview


The burden of chronic illness imposes significant restrictions and complications for an ill person on an everyday basis. It is essential for a patient and his or her family and friends to be aware of how the illness affects the life and what is possible to be done to facilitate the quality of life. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the frequently occurring illnesses in older adults that cause a lot of challenges for both a patient and his or her caregivers or family members. In this report, an interview with a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is presented and analyzed for its further interpretation and the application of results to effective planning care for the group.

Interview with a Patient with Alzheimer’s Disease

Patient’s name is K. L., 81 years old.

Interviewer: When were you diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?

K. L.: The first symptoms showed about three years ago when I started forgetting things. I was professionally assessed and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year and a half ago.

Interviewer: Do you currently live in your home or a long-term care facility?

K. L.: Yes, I live in my house, although I had been proposed to stay at a facility if needed. However, there is no need for me to find a place to stay or people to take care of me.

Interviewer: Do you have a permanent caregiver? If you live in your home, do any of your family members live with you?

K. L.: Since I am staying at home, my younger sister takes care of me, and currently she lives with me in the house.

Interviewer: Please list medications that you are currently taking.

K. L.: I have been taking several drugs to help me with the symptoms and to improve my management with anxiety and sleeplessness. I am taking Aricept, Celexa, Sonata, and some vitamins as prescribed by the doctor. My sister helps me with the dosage and time of taking the drugs.

Interviewer: Do you have other chronic illness besides Alzheimer’s?

K. L.: Besides Alzheimer’s, I have been suffering from arthritis for several years now.

Interviewer: How often do you socialize with your friends or family?

K. L.: My sister is always around; also, my son comes to visit approximately once a month due to his busy schedule. I also have a daughter who lives not far away. She and her family come to see me almost every weekend. As for my friends, there are a few people in the neighborhood whom I have had close relations with for many decades. We meet once in a while in the parks or visit each other. However, those kinds of meetings do not happen too often.

Interviewer: Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they?

K. L.: I used to do sports when I was younger, but now I like to spend some time in the kitchen cooking some deserts for my family when they come to visit. Also, I like gardening and knitting. However, I do not do these things as good as I used to.

Interviewer: Do you participate in cognitive activities? If so, please elaborate.

K. L.: My sister often encourages me to engage in my hobbies more often. She helps me when I face a problem recalling some information. Also, we often watch old photographs and talk about the past, our childhood, and people we grew up around. Sometimes it is challenging for me to recon the events and people, but I think these kinds of activities improve my condition and help with my memory problems.

Interviewer: How many times a week do you engage in light exercise?

K. L.: I do simple exercising two or three times a week.

Interviewer: Do you have any sleep problems, like insomnia, restlessness, difficulty to fall asleep?

K. L.: Yes, sometimes I have problems falling asleep and have sleepless nights. However, medication often helps me overcome this issue.

Interviewer: Do you feel fatigued during the day? What activities are included in your typical day?

K. L.: I often feel fatigued during the afternoons, and that is why I do not engage in any activities in the second half of the day. On my usual day, I spend my time with my sister, cook breakfast, walk outside, watch TV, sometimes meet friends or family if they come to visit.

Analysis of the Answers

Upon having interviewed a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the particular aspects of the impact of the chronic illness on the life of a patient and his/her family. According to the information presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of mortality in people aged above 65 years (“Helping Alzheimer’s caregivers,” 2018). Such statistics implies the need for accurate validation of the concerns related to the chronic condition to improve the quality of care for such individuals.

The answers show that the patient has been timely diagnosed with the disease and is currently provided with appropriate medications and treatment. The patient understands the need for medications and recognizes their positive effect when having trouble falling asleep, suffering from anxiety, or facing memory loss with confusion. The understanding issue is very important in the effective treatment of dementia (“How is Alzheimer’s disease treated,” 2018).

The coping skills are applied to manage the difficulties in daily life and routine activities and are facilitated with the help of a caregiver. The patient’s sister seems to be educated about the importance of cognitive activities due to the interviewee’s statement about the sister’s encouragement to engage in recollecting the past and doing housework together.

The fact that the sister lives in the same house and takes care of the patient justifies a certain level of family support. However, occasional visits of the children take place more seldom than desired, imposing insufficient support from family members. Often, caregivers and family members are affected by financial and emotional concerns related to the disease and often need professional assistance (“Helping Alzheimer’s caregivers,” 2018). In this particular case, the family and friends are aware of the illness and tend to provide support to the best possible extent.

Conclusion and Interpretation

The analysis of the interview gives an opportunity to interpret the level of the family’s readiness to accept the illness and provide support in the treatment process. The effectiveness of the prescribed medications and implementation of cognitive activities combined with constant care provided by a family member justify the appropriateness of such interventions. They should be fostered and utilized in future work with the illness group. Although the support of families is defined as one of the most important aspects of care provision for Alzheimer’s patients, there is a need to promote its practical application on an everyday basis (Alzheimer’s Association National Plan Care and Support Milestone Workgroup et al., 2016).

Since dementia might obstruct a patient’s daily routine when not staying at a professional facility, it is vital to ensure timely medication consumption and assistance in therapeutic activities. Due to the challenges dealing with stress when taking care of a patient with Alzheimer’s, proper consulting work should be initiated with the family members and caregivers to teach them specific coping skills. Such interventions will enhance the effectiveness of treatment and slow the progress of the disease with no harm to any party involved in the process.

References

Alzheimer’s Association National Plan Care and Support Milestone Workgroup, Borson, S., Boustani, M. A., Buckwalter, K. C., Burgio, L. D., Chodosh, J., …Geiger, A. (2016). Report on milestones for care and support under the U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 12(3), 334-369.

Helping Alzheimer’s caregivers. (2018). Web.

How is Alzheimer’s disease treated? (2018). Web.