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Hospice Care and Alzheimer’s Disease

As your loved one reaches the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the care needed intensifies. At this point, your loved one will be totally dependent on you for care and unable to remember much of their life. You’ve heard people talk about hospice care, but may not know exactly what it all entails, and how it relates to Alzheimer’s patients.

When Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, everyone realizes that there is no cure -- but the end of life still may be years away. Sometimes it is referred to as “the long goodbye” because people who have Alzheimer’s live with the disease for years. This leaves caregivers to wonder how to know when it would be time to call for hospice care.

Your loved one is experiencing a loss of memory and will eventually lose the ability to communicate and to do activities of daily living. If your loved one has trouble swallowing, no appetite, multiple episodes with pneumonia or another opportunistic infection, chances are, he or she has reached the end stage of the disease.

To qualify for hospice care, you loved one’s physician will need to certify that patient is expected to live less than six months if the current illness runs its normal course.

Hospice is an approach to care that strives to give the patient the utmost in comfort, freedom from pain and dignity. Once your loved one begins hospice care, you will be introduced to a team of people - physicians, nurses, social workers, and trained volunteers - to help your loved one live his/her final days to the fullest possible in terms of comfort. Most people continue to live at home during the end of life stage

Hospice professionals understand the dying process and can help families understand what is happening to their loved ones. End-of-life caregiving is extremely stressful and tiresome for family caregivers. Most hospice services provide respite services. It can be very sad and difficult for the caregiver to realize that the end is near, and the hospice team will also provide support and counseling for the family caregivers.

Hospice professionals understand the dying process. Their dual purposes are to provide comfort care to the patient and loved ones and to help families understand what is happening to their loved ones. Caregivers and families also need special care during this process. End-of-life caregiving is extremely stressful and tiresome for family caregivers. Most hospice services provide rese se and other supports and counseling for the family.

Hospice care, as long as it’s within the last six months of life with the illness, is most often covered by Medicare.