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Hospice and Alzheimer’s Disease

Late-stage Alzheimer’s requires special care and attention. Those faced with advanced dementia are rarely able to express their needs, which can spark frustration and agitation.

woman talks with hospice care provider about hospice care for alzheimer'sFamily members caring for an aging parent with dementia are more likely than others to say they have substantial emotional, financial, or physical problems. In these situations, hospice can be a great relief for families. Those who receive hospice care for late-stage dementia may experience less pain, reduced anxiety, and fewer unplanned hospital visits.

Compassus can help families facing the challenge of providing hospice care for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Call 833.380.9583 today to learn more.

The Role of Hospice Care for Alzheimer's and Dementia

“Our role is to lessen the burden on caregivers and connect the patient and family to life again. Patients and caregivers are exhausted, but it’s not wrong to think in terms of meaningful outcomes. Safety, dignity, beauty, and meaning; these are things we all can experience as long as we are alive.”
– Kurt Merkelz, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Compassus

Hospice nurses and aides help with feeding, dressing, and other practical matters. They help teach family caregivers how to spot and address the early signs of pain. Care extends to families who need help navigating the medical system. The hospice team includes social workers, chaplains, and volunteers who can lighten caregiving tasks.

Eligibility for Hospice Care

While most agree on the benefits, hospice is often underutilized with patients with dementia because end-of-life prognosis is difficult. The complex interactions between the declining brain and the body make it difficult for doctors to precisely determine how long anyone with Alzheimer’s can expect to live.

You may hear medical professionals talk about the Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scale. It ranks dementia patients on seven levels based on their abilities with daily functions and activities.

Creating a Plan for Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

Unfortunately, many people don’t consider Alzheimer’s as a cause of death. In 2017, Alzheimer’s was the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. During late-stage Alzheimer’s, patients can lose the ability to walk, sit and, eventually, swallow. They are also vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia.

Hospice can meet the myriad care challenges that can occur during end-stage Alzheimer’s. Some of those challenges include:

  • Behavior problems, especially aggressive behaviors
  • Loss of communication skills, leading to unmet needs and imprecise pain control
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Managing infections

Choosing the Right At-Home Hospice Provider

Before selecting a hospice provider, be sure to ask questions. These might include:

  • Is the hospice provider Medicare certified and licensed by the state?
  • Are hospice caregivers trained for the unique needs of patients with dementia?
  • How will your doctor work with the doctor from the hospice provider?
  • How many other patients are assigned to each member of the hospice care staff?
  • Will the hospice staff meet regularly with you and your family to discuss care?
  • How does the hospice staff respond to after-hour emergencies?
  • What measures are in place to ensure hospice care quality?
  • Where will my loved one receive care?

Through hospice care, families can focus on making the most of their time with a loved one. Care can be provided anywhere a patient calls home. Typically, that will be in a personal residence, but it can also be in a nursing home or group home.

Contact Compassus for Hospice Care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Today

With the support of hospice care, families can focus on honoring their loved one’s life and creating meaningful moments while avoiding unplanned hospital visits. Compassus can help families facing the challenge of providing hospice care for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Call us today at 833.380.9583 for more information about the care we provide and our dedication to patient-centered hospice care.