The ever-increasing number of patients suffering from dementia-related conditions has amplified the ethical issues in nursing practice. Currently, patients with Alzheimer’s infection suffer at the hands of health practitioners due to a need for constant care and decisions that are made without the support of the stipulated ethical nursing standards. An Alzheimer’s infection is a dementia-related disease that causes memory loss thereby interfering with the patient’s daily activities. The disease results from the death of brain cells due to either inheritance or the lifestyle of the individual. As a result, the patients require proper care to alleviate the situation. This essay evaluates the ethical issues in nursing practice due to the amplified cases of Alzheimer patients.
Background and Problem Statement
Most nurses are seen as victims of the care situations as they look after the patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In most cases, they suffer from various health problems due to the psychological they experience. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2011), the nurses experience depression, anxiety, and boredom. The rate of hospitalization is currently increasing among caregivers with complaints of mental and physical strains. Their problems include feeding, difficulty sleeping, inadequate support, and reduced quality care among others. Therefore, it is evident that most of the caregivers are prone to emotional distress, fatigue, social isolation, sleep deprivation, and conflicts among others (Wilson et al., 2007). A study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association (2011) indicated that 70-percent of the caregivers were white, 15-percent African Americans, 12-percent Hispanics, and 2-percent Asian-American among others. Nurses usually spend a lot of time on Alzheimer’s disease patients. The Alzheimer’s Association spends approximately 21.9 hours a week.
Various ethical principles guiding the delivery of care include beneficence, respect, and equity (Wilson et al., 2007). Most Alzheimer’s disease patients are demented; hence, the nurses have to formulate proper decisions regularly (Wilson et al., 2007). The nurse’s behavior towards the patients should be paternalistic. Ethically, the patient has the right to be treated appropriately for life preservation and prevention from suffering (Wilson et al., 2007; Simmons, 2008).
Alzheimer’s disease leads to cognitive decline; hence, the patient’s interaction with the nurses is always obstructed. As a result, there is a tendency of perceiving the patients as undesirable and unpleasant (Friedman et al., 2013). In this state, their decisions on their care can be overlooked. A dilemma in decision-making is also seen in life-extending treatment processes or issues concerning the end-of-life (euthanasia) (Draper, Peisah, Snowdon, & Brodaty, 2010). Furthermore, there is little information on how the nurses take action under such conditions. Do the nurses conduct physician-assisted suicide? If yes, are such actions approved by the patients prior to their death? Such questions have variously raised the attention of many health practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. As a result, there is a need for conducting a further evaluation on the ethical issues surrounding the care of Alzheimer’s disease patients as required in the field of nursing (Holcomb, 2008).
Purpose of the Study
The prospective research will evaluate the ethical issues that surround the care of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
A qualitative research design will be adopted. The researcher will then assess the correlation between the nurses’ perceived decisions and the outcome of the patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Sugiyono, 2008). This move will guide the researcher to determine whether such decisions are related to various ethical standards that are stipulated for the nursing practice.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2012). 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 8(2), 131-168.
Draper, B., Peisah, C., Snowdon, J., & Brodaty, H. (2010). Early dementia diagnosis and the risk of suicide and euthanasia. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 6(1), 75-82.
Friedman, D., Rose, I., Anderson, L., Hunter, R., Bryant, L., Wu, B.,…Tseng, W. (2013). Peer Reviewed: Beliefs and Communication Practices Regarding Cognitive Functioning Among Consumers and Primary Care Providers in the United States, 2009. Preventing chronic disease, 10(1), 1545-1151.
Holcomb, S. (2008). Easing the anguish of Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease afflicts not just the person who has it but everyone in that person’s orbit. American Nurse Today, 3(12), 18-22.
Sugiyono J. (2008). Statistical for Research. Bandung, Indonesia: Alfabeta Press.
Wilson, R., McCann, J., Li, Y., Aggarwal, N., Gilley, D., & Evans, D. (2007). Nursing home placement, day care use, & cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(6), 910-915.