Alzheimer’s patients require additional care as their illness progresses from the early to mid stages of the disease to the late stages. Hospice care is a way to help ensure your loved one gets the care they need with activities of daily living, pain management, and more during the final stages of Alzheimer’s. This review discusses what signs indicate a need for hospice care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Its Effect on Activities of Daily Living
Patients with Alzheimer’s slowly lose their ability to effectively and efficiently complete activities of daily living (ADLs). When this occurs, it can become more responsibility than what a family member can meet, and hospice care may be necessary to help ensure an optimal quality of life for the patient and their family.
Specifically, care providers and family members of a loved one with Alzheimer’s should check for worsening difficulties with memory, language and concentration, mood changes, confusion, immobility, problems with incontinence and difficulty swallowing, and the onset of other illnesses. When these problems occur, hospice care can help improve the quality of life for the patient and their family.
Difficulties With Memory
Memory loss is a common symptom in Alzheimer’s patients. The memory loss is typically sporadic in the early stages and continually worsens. By the late stages, it can be challenging for Alzheimer’s patients to always remember their loved ones throughout each day. Caring for someone with memory difficulties can be a stressful challenge, and it is often best to utilize hospice care when memory complications worsen in the mid to late stages of Alzheimer’s.
Language and Concentration Complications
Many Alzheimer’s patients also have complications with language and concentration as their illness progresses. This can make caring for them more of a challenge and can put a strain on the relationship they have with their loved ones. Subsequently, hospice care is typically recommended when communication concerns and concentration become an issue.
Changes in mood are also common in Alzheimer’s patients who are entering the late stages of the disease. Specifically, irritation and restlessness are common, and the patient often expresses their irritation and fatigue to their loved one if they are the primary caregiver. By choosing hospice care for the late stages of Alzheiemer’s, it allows the family members and the patient to focus on spending quality, meaningful time together.
Confusion is often associated with a loss of memory (or misremembering), which occurs in most patients with an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. In the early stages, confusion is typically mild and brief, and it does not pose a serious mental or physical health concern. However, as the symptom progresses with the disease, it may require the assistance of hospice to ensure the safety and quality of life for the patient.
One of the most notable limitations patients with Alzheimer’s have as the disease progresses is physical. The ability to move around as they desire and perform basic functions becomes compromised due to a reduction in motor skills. This makes daily tasks that we often take for granted such as getting dressed, using the bathroom, and walking much more of a challenge. Hospice care can assist with activities of daily living such as these and help the patient maintain an ideal quality of life as Alzheimer’s progresses to the later stages.
Incontinence / Difficulty Swallowing
Incontinence is common among Alzheimer’s patients in the late stages as well. In addition to medical support, hospice nurses and other staff members can help ensure the issue does not affect the quality of their day. In addition, an inability to swallow can also develop, and hospice care nurses can help ensure patients are able to eat and take medication as needed.
Susceptible to Other Illnesses
Patients in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s are more susceptible to other illnesses such as urinary tract infections (UTI), septicemia, and pneumonia. To minimize these risks and to ensure they do not linger if they do develop, it is often best to work with a hospice provider when the disease begins to progress past the early stages.
The Difficulties of Family Care With Late-Stage Dementia
Family members should not feel that it is solely their responsibility to care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. The later stages of Alzheimer’s require professional care to ensure quality of life for the patient, and getting this support means that family members can focus on spending meaningful time with their loved one.
Call Harbor Light Hospice Today To Learn More
Harbor Light Hospice offers hospice care services for individuals diagnosed with an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Call or send us a message today to learn more about the benefits of hospice care for your loved one.