Diagnosing, and Treating Patients With Neurocognitive Disorders

Neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) such as delirium, dementia, and amnestic disorders are more prevalent in older adults. As the population ages and as life expectancy in the United States continues to increase, the incidence of these disorders will continue to increase. Cognitive functioning in such areas as memory, language, orientation, judgment, and problem solving are affected in clients with NCDs. Caring for someone with a neurocognitive disorder is not only challenging for the clinician; it is stressful for the family as well. The PMHNP needs to consider not only the patient but also the “family as patient.” Collaboration with primary care providers and specialty providers is essential. Anticipatory guidance also becomes extremely important.

There is no Assignment due this week. You should review this week’s Learning Resources and consider the insights they provide about assessing, diagnosing, and treating neurocognitive disorders. Use this quiet week to work on your practicum assignment if you are taking both courses concurrently.

Neurocognitive disorders are unique among the other psychiatric disorders you have studied in that they “are syndromes for which the underlying pathology, and frequently the etiology as well, can potentially be determined” (DSM-5, 2013). That is, diseases or injuries are to blame for the neurocognitive manifestations. These conditions are acquired and (in contrast to neurodevelopmental disorders) represent a decline from a previous higher level of functioning. Neurocognitive disorders present a diagnostic challenge for the PMHNP in that many of the signs and symptoms overlap.

This week, you will explore evidence-based psychotherapy and psychopharmacologic treatment for neurocognitive disorders.

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