Although research has highlighted the numerous medical and emotional benefits that hospice can provide patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, hospice care continues to be underutilized by this patient demographic.
Hospice Care and Alzheimer’s Patients
Hospice care can have a positive impact on patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. This is demonstrated in several aspects of the care they receive. Studies have shown that patients with advanced Alzheimer’s who receive hospice care are likely to have better pain and symptom management than in a hospital or other medical facility. Additionally, patients’ families have also been shown to have a higher level of satisfaction with their loved one’s end-of-life care.
Psychological Needs of Family Members
In addition to caring for the patient, hospice care can also help to address the psychological and emotional needs of family members. Hospice provides emotional support to families and caretakers, helping them adjust to caring for a loved one who has reached the end of life. End-of-life care for patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease often poses unique challenges because of the continuing cognitive deterioration of the patient. It is important for caregivers to feel comfortable in caring for their loved one as both physical and mental decline occurs. The guidance provided by the hospice interdisciplinary team can assist in making this period less chaotic and help mitigate emotional and mental burdens often experienced by family members.
Support From Familial Caregivers
As a patient continues to progress through hospice care, the supportive role of family members often needs to be expanded. A lack of understanding of advanced Alzheimer’s disease can often lead to distress and frustration among familial caregivers. Hospice staff can help decrease the burdens of caregiving by providing clear guidance to families. For many family members, separating their loved ones from the disease can be difficult. However, if family members understand the progression of the disease, they are often better able to cope with the challenges that arise.
Understanding Comfort Care
Providing patient-centered comfort care is a central tenet of hospice. The focus of comfort care is to help manage symptoms and relieve suffering. Patient-centered comfort care may include increasing physical comfort, addressing spiritual and emotional needs, and assisting with tasks of daily living. Patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease are unable to verbally communicate their needs, which can make providing effective comfort care challenging. The inability to decipher a patient’s needs often causes frustration for caregivers who may feel the patient’s needs are not being met. In patients who are unable to verbally communicate, hospice staff can teach caregivers how to decipher a patient’s other cues to determine how to address patient needs. Sharing this knowledge with familial caregivers helps empower them to take on a more active role in the care of the patient.
Enlisting Hospice for Support
Caring for a loved one who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease often presents many challenges. However, hospice care is designed specifically to care for patients and guide families during end-of-life. If you are managing the care of a loved one with advanced Alzheimer’s, contact Traditions Health using the Request Care form to learn how we can support you and your loved one.
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