Insight Into Hospice Care and Services Offered for Alzheimer's Patients
A common misconception I often hear regarding hospice care is: “I thought hospice only took care of people with cancer.” Although hospice services are often utilized by people with a cancer diagnosis, hospice services are also readily available to anyone who, if determined by a physician, is predicted to have a life expectancy of 6 months or less, if the disease were to run its normal course. This means hospice services can be a wonderful benefit for anyone.
One area I’ve seen hospice services be particularly helpful in offering additional support to caregivers and families, is for those who have a loved one entering the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can often become an emotional and physically taxing effort. Hospice provides families and caregivers insight into what to expect as their loved one’s disease progresses. Hospice delivers a holistic approach to ensure a loved one’s final days are comfortable.
Some examples of care typically provided to a loved one on hospice with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia include:
- Pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions for alleviating symptoms
- Respite care for families to provide caregiver relief
- Bereavement services for family and caregivers
- Continual spiritual and emotional support throughout one’s end-of-life journey
The hospice care team is comprised of skilled nurses, physicians, hospice aides, social workers, pharmacists, volunteers, pastoral services, and alternative therapies, such as music or massage. Because a day in the life of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is ever-changing, the hospice medical team works closely with families and caregivers to ensure the most appropriate plan of care is being provided. Hospice services may be provided in a variety of settings including the home, nursing home, or hospital.
Dr. David Keith, Medical Director of Hospice of Spencer Hospital, mentions, “One of the most important things to take into consideration when caring for a loved one with dementia is preparation. It is important for families or caregivers to seek help when their loved one becomes increasingly forgetful or is no longer able to care for himself or his home. It is important to have tough conversations now, in order to avoid a crisis in the future.”
We at Hospice of Spencer Hospital welcome any conversations or questions regarding hospice services or end-of-life care. Feel free to contact us at (712) 264-6380. Additional support for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia may be found through:
- Alzheimer’s Association
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)