If you or a loved one are dealing with dementia, hospice is a valuable service that can significantly improve quality of life. Hospice focuses on providing comfort and dignity at the end of a person’s life, supporting patients as well as their families.
Hospice care is typically provided wherever a patient lives by a team of specially trained providers including nurses, doctors, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, therapists and clergy.
One of the greatest benefits of hospice is having the peace of mind of knowing that medical and emotional support are available when they are needed.
Hospice teams become like extended members of the family as they help a patient through the end-of-life process, which is a highly personal experience.
They listen to patients and their families, care for them individually, and advocate for them while doing their best to give them the highest quality of life possible.
How To Determine When To Call Hospice For Dementia Patients
Because the condition of dementia patients often declines slowly, determining when to call hospice can be challenging. Although hospice patients are generally believed to have six months or less to live, this determination can be difficult to make with illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, there are a few signs that the disease has progressed in a patient to the point where hospice care can be beneficial. When a patient is completely dependent on other people for dressing, eating and grooming; can only say a few words; shows signs of severe anxiety; or is no longer able to walk, it is time to reach out to hospice for an assessment.
A patient’s physician or neurologist might recommend hospice when they believe the time is appropriate. However, if patients or their family members believe they have reached the point where they need hospice, they can request a hospice evaluation.
How Hospice Can Help Dementia Patients
A hospice team will evaluate the patient’s condition and create a plan for their care that is adaptable as their condition changes. The main goals of hospice for dementia patients are alleviating emotional and physical distress so they can be comfortable.
Hospice teams work with a patient’s doctors to develop a plan of care. A team manager is appointed to ensure that information is being shared between the patients’ doctors, social workers, nurses and clergy as needed. Hospice also coordinates and supplies all of the medical equipment, supplies and medications that are related to the patient’s diagnosis.
Patients’ abilities tend to decline as dementia progresses, and their individualized care plan will be adapted to reflect their growing needs related to issues such as recurrent infection, nutrition, pain, hydration.
Spiritual And Emotional Assistance
Hospice also provides patients with services that can help with their emotional and spiritual well-being, such as support from therapists and clergy.
How Hospice Helps Dementia Patients Families
Caring for a loved one who is dealing with dementia can be incredibly challenging and emotionally trying, so hospice care provides services to family caregivers to help them navigate this difficult period.
Training And Education
Hospice teams educate families on how they can best take care of their loved one with dementia and how to cope as the patient grows weaker and their ability to communicate declines.
Caregivers often have questions as new situations arise while caring for their loved one with dementia. Hospice offers family members round-the-clock phone services that can be called at any hour to get answers to important questions and dispatch hospice team members to the patient as needed.
Emotional And Spiritual Guidance
Hospice teams provide caregivers with emotional and spiritual guidance so that they can better care for their loved one.
They also help them mentally prepare for their loved one’s eventual passing. In addition, they offer valuable advice for families who are struggling to make difficult choices about their loved one’s care.
Hospice also offers limited inpatient care for patients when their caregiver needs a break. Whether the caregiver needs to tend to important family or work matters, or they simply need some time away from the stresses of caregiving, respite care can give them the space they need and allow them to return to their caregiving duties in a better state of mind.
For most patients, hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. However, some families may need assistance with financial planning during hospice care, and hospice teams can assist in this regard.
Hospices will work with the families of patients who have died for up to a year after their death to help them process and deal with their grief productively.
Reach Out To The Experienced Dementia Hospice Care Team
If you are interested in learning more about how hospice can improve the quality of life for a loved one with dementia, get in touch with the compassionate team at Harbor Light Hospice to find out how they can help your family navigate this challenging condition.