Thursday, 21 August 2003
This presentation is part of : Thursday Poster Sessions

PD-011 Living with Alzheimer's Disease

Carlo Cristini, Psychology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy and Giovanni Cesa-Bianchi, Psychology, University of Milano, Milano, Italy.

Introduction: The progressive aging of population implies the steady increase of psychogeriatric disorders, especially Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Many factors influence the health in aging: genetic, personality, experience, love, family, relationship, environment, and culture. Elderly people live better at home: place of protection, stability, memory; but aged people who are ill, alone, poor, emarginated need attention, understanding, acceptation, and they sometimes desire a safe, curative, and restful environment. Disease changes self-perception and environment.

Methods: We have interviewed 95 AD-patients (49 F., 46 M.) of different age: young-old, old-old and oldest-old, 53 living at home and 42 institutionalized and a control group above 65, sane.

Instruments: Neuropsychological Screening; Questionnaire, applied by semistructured interviewed; Geriatric Depression Scale; Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale; to a group: the listening of three pieces of lyric play, three songs of twenty-forty years, the presentation of three paintings; chi square has been applied.

Results: Average age: 80.05 years. AD-patients seem more worried than control group (X=6.9224 p<. 01). The 37.89%, especially men (X=7.2924 p<.01) and young old, are less satisfied with their own health condition. Illness: heart diseases, especially in men; joints diseases, especially in women; both are more in institutionalized. Women are more satisfied, more autonomous (X=9.7541) p<.005, accept the illness better (X=4.0918 p.05) perceived as: limitation (27,36%): especially in living at home; natural event (25,26%): women and oldest-old; decline (25,86%): institutionalized and young-old; injustice (22,10%): institutionalized; defeat (21,05%): men. The illness elicits sadness: institutionalized and old-old men; regret: living at home; anxiety and more aggressiveness in comparison with control group (X=6.2338 p<.025). The difficulty to express feelings is higher in men (X=5.6471 p<.025), in institutionalized (66,67%) towards to control group (X=10.3226 p<.005). The future produces worries (41,05%), bewilderment (21,05%), hope (21,05%), especially in women (X=6.1013 p< 0.25), quietness (X=4.1130 p<.05, concerning group control); interviewed people desire health, autonomy, affects and to live more long possible, a more clear awareness (X=13.7892 p<.001). The irritability is caused by: absence of listening (47,37%): nocturne noises, especially in institutionalized and old-old. Women, especially old-old (X=5.4677 p<.025), are more sensitive to violence news. The image of their own body and of themselves is more negative in women and in institutionalized. The 28,42% would have preferred to escape painful experiences: war, hunger, tragic events. Anxiety and depression are more frequent in institutionalized and in old-old. Music and paintings have evoked different emotions and memories, sometimes not recognized; remembers about childhood and feelings of love are more than control group, especially in presentation of paintings.

Conclusions: women present better adaptation, better emotional control and seem more trusting; men have difficulties accepting the illness, to express desires and emotions. Some maladjustment factors are age-correlated. Elderly people living at home seem more satisfied, have more positive image of themselves; institutionalized suffer the absence of expressive opportunities. AD-patients seem more sensitive and frail, but they can express an emotive and relationship link, also by remembering.

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