Hospice Care for Alzheimer’s Patients

September 6, 2017

 

Why Patients with Alzheimer’s Benefit from Hospice Care

According to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures published by the Alzheimer’s Association, out of the 5.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s dementia, around 96 percent or an estimated 5.3 million are aged 65 and older.

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The number is expected to continue to grow fast that, by 2050, the figure is projected to rise as high as 16 million.

In the meantime, patients with Alzheimer’s have to live with the disease day in and day out. What can you do to make their lives less of a struggle?

Consider hospice care, a special way of caring for people who are living with a terminal disease, while providing support to the family.

Hospice care providers have the expertise to deal with dementia from the onset right throughout the end of life process. Their services may include medical care, counseling, respite care, and grief support.

When does a patient need hospice care?

It is important that you recognize when an elderly loved one needs hospice intervention. Since Alzheimer’s disease goes through progression, it is not always necessary for patients to receive hospice care early on. You just need to know when the time is right.

Degenerative brain disease has three main stages – early stage or mild Alzheimer’s, middle stage or moderate Alzheimer’s, and late stage or severe Alzheimer’s. Among these stages, it is during the moderate to late stages that hospice intervention is necessary.

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During the middle stage, a patient will require more direct help and care from loved ones and doctors, what with them becoming frustrated more frequently and experiencing a variety of behavioral changes.

During the late stage, on the other hand, most of a patient’s communication skills will be lost and recent events are often a distant memory or forgotten altogether. Add to this the physical limitations that a patient experience, such as the inability to swallow, sit up, and/or walk, constant care is crucial.

Still unsure if an elderly loved one needs hospice care? You must not hesitate when any of the following symptoms manifest:

  • Episodes of pneumonia and other serious infections happen twice or more during the past six months.
  • Difficulty in eating and swallowing, resulting in 10% or more of weight loss over the next six months.
  • Skin pressure ulcers are not healing.

When you notice one or all of these symptoms, opt for hospice intervention right away.

What to expect from hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients?

  • Hospice care should not only focus on patient’s comfort but also on making the end of life as easy and as comfortable as possible.
  • Helps the family deal with the loss of a loved one or the reality that a senior loved one is on their end-of-life stage.
  • Ensures a family approaches end of life with dignity and peacefulness, regardless of what encompasses their beliefs.

How do you choose a hospice provider?

Check if they offer the following:

  • 24/7 call line
  • Experience with previous patients with Alzheimer’s, whether in-home or in aged care
  • Length of time that a provider has been open.
  • The kind of specialized services that help ensure a patient’s comfort.
  • The hospice program being offered is Medicare certified.

Better yet, consult with Senior Living Experts that can help you choose the best hospice care provider and facility. They are more than willing to be a part of both hospice and palliative care for a senior loved one, ensuring that their specific needs are met.