Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the most common and debilitating illnesses that affect the elderly. There are currently over 50 million men and women worldwide that are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. If you’re caring for someone who has one of these chronic diseases, it’s important to know when to call hospice and allow them to take over.
In this article, we will examine when it’s time to call hospice for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. We’ll also look at how hospice care can help patients with dementia and how to choose the best hospice care provider in Georgia.
Signs That It’s Time to Call Hospice
Here are a few standard signs and symptoms that indicate your dementia patient or loved one is ready for hospice care.
- If your patient is unable to move about and ambulate without assistance.
- If your patient is unable to dress and undress without assistance.
- If your patient is unable to bathe or clean themselves properly.
- The person with dementia is suffering more hospitalizations and doctor’s visits than usual.
- They start to suffer from incontinence and frequently soil themselves.
- They have trouble eating, drinking, and speaking on their own.
If your dementia patient or loved one is suffering from these afflictions regularly, it may be time to contact hospice.
What Does Hospice Do for Dementia Patients?
Hospice care facilities have trained and prepared personnel to work with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. They will set up a one-on-one care plan with every patient under their care. Hospice will also provide around-the-clock supervision, where patients living at home likely don’t have access to that kind of care.
The overall goal of hospice for dementia patients is to ease their mental and physical pain. Physical pain is common because patients become less able to move about and eat proper foods as the disease progresses.
Patients also have a great deal of mental stress since they’re trying to hold on to whatever abilities they have left. There are also times of clarity when the patient realizes what’s happening, which can be highly debilitating and depressing for them.
Let’s take a deeper look at what hospice will do for dementia patients.
- Set up a personalized plan: The plan that hospice doctors and caretakers set up addresses every part of the patients’ lives. Pain, nutrition, skin care, agitation, feeding, hydration, general care, and well-being are all items that must be addressed. The further the disease progresses, the more hands-on care the patient will need.
- Emotional and spiritual assistance and guidance: In addition to the physical needs that dementia patients require, they also need emotional and spiritual support. Hospice will organize volunteers, chaplains, and professional counselors to help patients. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s benefit greatly, mentally and emotionally, from everyday conversations with friends and strangers alike. This is often in the form of volunteers who are willing to come in and talk with patients.Dementia patients with religious backgrounds often have basic and complicated questions about religion. Chaplains and preachers are brought in to conduct meetings and have one-on-one conversations with patients. Many facilities also have music therapy offered by volunteers. Music therapy is a massive helper both mentally and emotionally to dementia patients.
- Hospice provides support to friends and family healthcare which doesn’t stop with the patient. Hospice also helps friends and family of the patient who is struggling emotionally and mentally with their new reality. Hospice addresses the emotional toll that caring for a family member with dementia takes on a person. We also help loved ones make the tough decisions that they’ll inevitably have to face as their loved one draws near to the end.If you’re not ready to call hospice for full-time patient care, you can always call them for advice and counseling. Hospice caretakers are skilled and able to provide educational support to at-home caretakers. Hospice can also provide backup support and offer to come to your home when you need a break.
When to Choose Hospice For Dementia?
Dementia is a slow-progressing disease that can take years, if not decades, to take effect. Symptoms will start slow and gradually progress as the condition worsens. You must receive a dementia diagnosis as early as possible so that you can properly monitor your loved one.
Knowing that you’re caring for a dementia patient allows you to understand the signs and symptoms to watch out for. You must have conversations with hospice caregivers early on so that they can advise you as to when it’s time to call them.
What is Palliative Care for Advanced Dementia?
Palliative care is very similar to hospice regarding treatments and quality of care for dementia patients. The main difference is that hospice is reserved for patient care towards the end of their lives, and palliative care can start at any time. Palliative care is also highly beneficial to the loved ones tasked with caring for dementia patients.
Palliative care is also designed to go hand in hand with other forms of treatment. It’s administered by specially trained doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to offer comprehensive care to dementia patients. If your loved one isn’t ready for hospice but needs extra care and support, palliative care is a great option.
What is the Hospice Dementia Fast Scale?
The FAST scale is what hospice uses to determine if a dementia patient is ready for their care. A dementia patient needs a score of seven to qualify for hospice. The testing scale measures the mental well-being of those who have dementia essentially by measuring how slow their response time is in critical areas. When a patient is at stage seven on the FAST scale, they will no longer be able to walk, eat, sit up, move their head, speak more than several words per day, or smile.
If you’re currently caring for a loved one who has dementia and you think they’re ready for hospice, contact Hospice Care of Central Georgia. We have a team of loving and professional caregivers who specialize in caring for those with dementia. Even if they aren’t ready for hospice, we offer palliative care to help them through the entire process.