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Savannah Martin
Nadine Gordon
UWRT 1103-004
28 February, 2019

Topic Proposal

For my extended inquiry project, I decided to focus on what interventions, both

pharmacological and non-pharmacological, are best for handling challenging behavior in

individuals who suffer from dementia. Dementia is classified as a progressive disorder that

affects the mental processes of individuals over time. Individuals who suffer from dementia can

experience significant impairment of their memory, visual perception, communication abilities,

ability to focus and their reasoning and judgment abilities. Due to the rapid deterioration of the

brain cells, individuals with dementia often experience challenging behavior such as emotional

distress, hallucinations, delusions, physical and verbal outbursts, and restlessness. The best way

to handle this depends heavily on what situation triggered the behavior within the individual. For

example, changes in surroundings are extremely difficult for individuals with dementia because

they're already struggling to make sense of everything around them and a sudden change in their

environment only adds to their fear and confusion. The best way to approach this situation would

be to identify what caused the behavior and attempt to provide comfort and security for that

individual to help calm them down.

I knew that I wanted to focus my research on a topic that dealt with the medical field. My

initial inquiry question was “how should mental health interventions be adapted to fit the needs

of individuals who suffer from autism spectrum disorder?”. I then decided that I wanted to do a
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topic that focused on individuals with dementia since I've always been interested in learning

about that topic. The final question that I came up with for my inquiry paper is “what

interventions, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, are best for handling challenging

behavior in individuals who suffer from dementia?”. I decided on this because I knew it would

be easier for me to do research on a topic that interests me and that I already know about rather

than doing a topic that I know very little about.

Since taking CNA courses in high school, I've always found an interest in learning about

individuals who suffer from dementia and other brain disorders. While doing clinical to get my

CNA, I had the opportunity to intern at a nursing home on the Alzheimers and Dementia unit. I

quickly discovered that this unit was very different from the others in many aspects. The unit

was secured by double doors that you can only access with a badge, this is primarily for the

patient's safety due to the fact that dementia patients like to wander around by themselves.

Another difference that I noticed was the patients expressed disruptive behavior very frequently

which made the unit a lot louder than a normal unit. Over time it became very aware to me that

these patients often got treated a little differently than “normal” patients due to their disruptive

behaviors and for some healthcare workers that can be very scary or irritating. By the end of my

clinical experience, I learned that in order to care for individuals who are completely dependent

and not in the same state of mind that you're in, you have to be very empathetic and

understanding of the everyday difficulties they face.

The next steps I have planned for this project is to start looking a little further into

dementia and becoming more familiar with its causes and effects on the human body. I plan to

research how effective pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments are on dementia


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patients in the healthcare setting. In addition to that, I plan to look further into the pros and cons

of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment methods.