National Alzheimer Month

Date: Jun, 6 2024

Hospice care is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Hospice care can help to manage pain and other symptoms, as well as provide emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their family. Hospice care is appropriate for patients with dementia who have a life expectancy of six months or less, as determined by an evaluating doctor.

Dementia is a term that describes a group of diseases that affect the brain and cause a progressive decline in memory, thinking, and behavior. People with dementia may eventually lose their ability to communicate, recognize their loved ones, and perform basic activities of daily living. Dementia is a terminal illness that has no cure and can cause significant suffering for patients and their families.

Hospice care can benefit people with dementia and their families in many ways. Some of the benefits of hospice care for dementia patients are:
- Pain and symptom management: Hospice care can help relieve pain and other symptoms that are common in the end stages of dementia, such as agitation, anxiety, depression, insomnia, infections, dehydration, malnutrition, skin breakdown, and breathing difficulties. Hospice care can provide medications, equipment, and supplies to help control these symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients.
- Emotional and spiritual support: Hospice care can offer counseling and guidance to help patients and their families cope with the emotional and spiritual impact of dementia and the end-of-life process. Hospice care can also provide grief support for the family after the death of their loved one.
- Respite care: Hospice care can provide respite care to allow family caregivers to take a break from the demands of caring for their loved one with dementia. Respite care can be provided by hospice staff or volunteers who can stay with the patient for a few hours or days while the caregiver rests or attends to other needs.
- Education and resources: Hospice care can educate family caregivers about what to expect in the final stages of dementia and how to provide the best possible care for their loved one. Hospice care can also connect family caregivers with other resources in the community that can assist them with practical matters, such as legal issues, financial planning, funeral arrangements, and bereavement services.

In this article, we will discuss how hospice care can help people and their caregivers with Alzheimer's and dementia. We will cover the following topics:
- How to determine hospice eligibility for patients with dementia
- What hospice care involves for patients with dementia and their caregivers
- What are the benefits of hospice care for patients with dementia and their caregivers

How to determine hospice eligibility for patients with dementia

Hospice care for dementia patients is often underutilized because it can be difficult to determine when someone with dementia is eligible for hospice care. Unlike other terminal illnesses that have clear signs of decline, dementia progresses gradually and unpredictably.
Hospice eligibility for patients with dementia can be challenging, as the disease is gradual and affects the brain more than the body. Some signs that a patient with dementia may be ready for hospice care include:

- Losing the ability to communicate, care for themselves, and ambulate without assistance
- Having recurrent infections, such as aspiration pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or sepsis
- Having multiple or severe pressure ulcers
- Having recurrent fever after antibiotics
- Having difficulty swallowing or refusing to eat
- Having protein-calorie malnutrition or significant weight loss
- Having co-morbid conditions that significantly impair their health and functionality, such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney failure, or cancer

When making health care decisions for someone with dementia, it's important to consider their quality of life. For example, medications are available that may delay or keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time. However, some caregivers might not want drugs prescribed for people in the later stages of these diseases if the side effects outweigh the benefits. It is important to consider the goals of care and weigh the benefits, risks, and side effects of any treatment. You may need to make a treatment decision based on the person's comfort rather than trying to extend their life or maintain their abilities for longer.

What hospice care involves for patients with dementia and their caregivers

Hospice care for patients with dementia involves a team of professionals who provide medical, nursing, social, spiritual, and emotional support to the patient and their family. The hospice team may include:
- A doctor who oversees the plan of care and coordinates with other doctors involved in the patient's care
- A nurse who visits the patient regularly to monitor their condition and provide symptom management
- A home health aide who assists with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting
- A social worker who helps with practical issues, such as financial assistance, legal matters, advance directives, and bereavement counseling
- A chaplain who offers spiritual guidance and comfort according to the patient's beliefs and preferences
- A volunteer who provides companionship and respite for the caregiver
- A therapist who provides physical, occupational, or speech therapy if needed
- A pharmacist who reviews the patient's medications and ensures they are appropriate and safe
- A dietician who advises on nutritional needs and preferences

Hospice care can be provided in various settings, such as the patient's home, a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or a hospice facility. The hospice team works closely with the patient's primary caregiver, who is usually a family member or friend. The caregiver is responsible for providing day-to-day care to the patient and communicating with the hospice team about any changes or concerns. The hospice team provides education and training to the caregiver on how to care for the patient and themselves. The hospice team also provides 24/7 access to support and guidance in case of emergencies or questions.

What are the benefits of hospice care for patients with dementia and their caregivers

Hospice care can provide many benefits for patients with dementia and their caregivers. Some of these benefits include:
- Improving the patient's quality of life by reducing pain and discomfort
- Enhancing the patient's dignity and respect by honoring their wishes and preferences
- Providing emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their family
- Reducing the caregiver's stress and burden by providing respite and assistance
- Increasing the caregiver's satisfaction and coping skills by providing education and counseling
- Reducing the cost of care by avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations and interventions
- Preparing the patient and their family for the end-of-life process

Adoray’s Commitment to providing the highest quality of Care to people living with Dementia, their families, and our community.

The Adoray Hospice care team including volunteers are trained in how to manage the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, aggression, or hallucinations. Along with how to communicate with patients with dementia who have lost the ability to speak or understand language. Adoray is able to provide sensory connections, such as touch, music, or aromatherapy, to patients with dementia. While supporting the caregiver's needs and challenges when caring for a patient with dementia. This is done through coordinating care with other providers involved in the patient's care, such as their primary doctor, neurologist, or geriatrician.

Adoray is also a proud member of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI). Through this membership, Adoray has access to the best standards of care for mis, to advances, to end-stage dementia with the collective input of 100+ not-for-profit hospice, palliative, and advanced illness care organizations. We are pleased to share our Dementia Care Guide with our Adoray Community. Download your Free copy of this wonderful resource below.

In addition, Adoray has a team of Certified Dementia Live Trainers who are available to provide this important educational experience to staff at our care partners and the community. Interested in learning more about how to get Dementia Live training for your team? Call Adoray at 715-619-1888 today and ask about our Dementia Live Training.

Adoray’s Hospice care can help people and their caregivers with Alzheimer's and dementia by providing comprehensive and compassionate care that focuses on comfort, quality of life, and dignity. Hospice care can also relieve the caregiver's stress and burden by providing respite and support. If you are interested in Adoray’s hospice care or think your loved one with dementia may benefit from hospice care, you should talk to their doctor about getting a referral to Adoray Hospice. You may also call Adoray directly at 715-629-1888 and speak with one of our RN experts about how we can help.

Hospice care is not giving up on your loved one with dementia. It is choosing to focus on their comfort and dignity at the end of life. Hospice care can help your loved one live as well as possible until they die peacefully and naturally. Hospice care also supports family members and loved ones for 13 months following the loss of their loved one.

Ultimately, Hospice care is a support group, that ensures no one has to navigate the stress and fears of end of life alone. Giving the patient and their family and friends peace of mind knowing there is a team of experts following and supporting them every step of the way.

If you’re looking for the highest quality and most compassionate hospice care in Western Wisconsin, Adoray Home Health & Hospice is what you’re searching for. We provide patient-centered care done by trained clinicians and therapists wherever you call home. Our team will make you and your loved ones feel comforted when they need it more. Contact us today to learn more about our hospice care programs.

Additional Recommended Article: When An Alzheimer’s Patient Begins Hospice Care – By Barabara Karens

Click to Download our Dementia Resource Guide
When An Alzheimer’s Patient Begins Hospice Ca

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