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Choosing Hospice Care for Dementia
Knowing that a terminally ill loved one is almost at the end of their journey is a hard reality to accept. The least we can do for them is to provide the utmost comfort and ease them from the burdens they’ve suffered alongside their fight with their disease.
When to Choose Hospice Care for Dementia Patients
As experiences with this disease vary significantly for each patient, their primary caregivers should identify their loved one’s different symptoms and ascertain when to call hospice for dementia patients.
Criteria for Hospice Admissibility
Hospice for dementia becomes the best option when the patient’s life expectancy is of six months or less, with the ailment developing at a standard rate. Furthermore, their physical condition may be impaired – for instance, they may have:
- The inability to control bladder and bowels
- Failure to sit straight without armrests or slips off of chairs
- The inability to walk without a walker or is in a wheelchair
- The inability to smile
- End-stage heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- End-stage dementia like Alzheimer’s Disease
- Visits to the hospital or emergency room become frequent
- They are having trouble in both eating or drinking resulting in both weight loss or dehydration
- Choking or difficulty in swallowing both solid or liquid food
- Inability to drink, even with the aid of a straw
- Only able to say at most six words on a daily
- Not under any aggressive treatment
- Approved for admission by their attending physician
How Is Hospice Care Done?
Every patient is drafted their very own care plan depending on their needs and level of assistance required.
Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care
Although both aims to give the patient comfort and are often considered to be the same, palliative and hospice care are different, as explained in the following:
Palliative care can start at the disease’s diagnosis and can overlap with the treatment process. It is specific medical care that aims to relieve the pain of side effects the patient gets from their treatment, thus uplifting their quality of life.
At All American Hospice Care, the health providers are trained in:
- Reducing the discomfort of side effects so the patient’s plans can be fulfilled.
- Simplifying complex medical terms and explaining them different treatment prospects in order for them to select the right one.
- Helping the patients learn how to deal with unfortunate news and accepting their fears and regrets by continuous social and psychological support to both the patient and their family. After the death of the patient, their family will still be supported for up to 13 months.
- Providing every necessary physical and emotional support to the patient, including consultations and medical treatments
Hospice means “end of life” and starts when the treatment is stopped as a definitive result of being unable to survive the disease. It is a type of care for terminally ill patients to ease, alleviate their pain or illness but not “treat” the disease.
Hospice care for Alzheimer’s Disease or any type of dementia includes soothing the set of symptoms being experienced by the patient, which may result from treatment, such as the after-effects of chemotherapy, along with the support from professional psychologists for the patient and their family.
Hospice Care Dementia at Home
Sometimes the patient’s family will choose to keep their loved one in their home for a more comfortable, familiar environment that can help the patient. This option is preferred when the patient wants to spend their remaining time with their relatives and friends close by.
All American Hospice Care will provide exceptional and highly-qualified nurses who will visit the patient’s home regularly with all the proper and prescribed medications. Our nurses will also recommend appropriate diets for the patient where they can get the nutrition they need. The patient’s caregiver will be taught how to care for their unwell loved one appropriately.
The patient and their family are encouraged to ask any questions they have, so their minds can be at ease. These queries will also be answered fittingly.
A Closer Look: What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for the decrease in an individual’s mental capacity so gravely that it interrupts daily activities.
A Closer Look: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients is common, as this disease is the most typical type of dementia. It’s a specific disease that gets worse with time and comes in slow progression.
Before any signs of Alzheimer’s can be noted, the brain changes have already started years prior (a.k.a. preclinical Alzheimer’s disease). Those diagnosed with this disease can live, on average, from four to eight years.
The symptoms, progression, and experiences differ from each person, and the stages of Alzheimer’s may overlap; thus, identifying the specific stage where a patient currently is may be difficult.
There are three stages of Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. Early or Mild Stage
The early-stage symptoms are not apparent as the individual can still function independently, but their relatives and close friends start to notice.
- Lapses in memory
- Misplaces objects
- Forgets the right or familiar words or name
- Trouble in planning and organization
- Not being able to recall a material that they just read
2. Middle or Moderate Stage
Generally, the longest stage and can last for many years. The symptoms in the middle-stage become more noticeable. The individual can still participate in daily tasks but will often need assistance.
- Difficulty in expressing their thoughts clearly
- Difficulty in doing daily tasks without assistance
- Confuses words
- Quickly gets frustrated or angry
- Acts in unexpected ways
- Does not want to take a bath
- Sleep pattern suddenly changes
- Sudden suspiciousness and delusions
- Repetitive behaviors
- Forgets essential events and personal history or details such as their address or telephone number
- Tends to get lost or wander
3. Late or Severe
In the late-stage, the individual’s memory and cognitive skills continuously decline. They will need 24-hour assistance with personal care as the symptoms become severe, sometimes even making the caregiver/s start considering Alzheimer’s hospice care criteria as they contemplate availing it for their loved one.
- Inability to respond to their environment
- Failure to be engaged in a conversation
- Loses control of their movements
- Difficulty in communication
- Changes in personality
- Loses awareness of recent experiences
- Differences in physical abilities such as walking, sitting, and swallowing
- Vulnerability to infections, especially pneumonia
Connect with All American Hospice Care Today
Whether you need hospice for Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia, All American Hospice Care is available to support you. Reach out to us today with any concerns you might have regarding yourself or a loved one suffering from these illnesses.