Alzheimer’s Disease & End-of-Life Care
Alzheimer’s is an aggressive degenerative brain disease that is caused by multiple complex and poorly understood brain changes. These changes lead to dementia type symptoms that gradually worsen over time, with the earliest signs being trouble remembering new information. This is because the disease typically impacts the frontal lobe first, which is the part of the brain associated with learning.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, symptoms become more severe. These can include disorientation, confusion, behavior or mood changes, as well as disruption of day to day routines. Eventually, even speaking, swallowing, and walking becomes extremely difficult. Even with modern medicine, we have no way to prevent, cure, or even slow Alzheimer’s disease, although many recent studies do show promising results.
While the most significant known risk for Alzheimer’s is an increase in age, we know this disease is not a normal part of aging. Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 years and older, yet approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, according to alz.org
Many Alzheimer’s disease patients can have an excellent quality of life. Still, eventually, medical intervention is necessary to keep many comfortable and safe.
Whether it is Hospice Care or Palliative Care you are seeking, it’s essential to get ready for this time and plan accordingly. Be prepared and know what services are available for a patient’s needs and wants, so when the time comes, you are not having to rush into a decision.
Hospice careis only for those patients whose doctors believe they have at least a 50% chance of passing in less than six months. Hospice is designed to make the end-of-life process as comfortable as possible without trying to fight or cure the disease. Palliative care is similar but for those who are not in imminent danger of dying. These patients are still able to seek out and try different types of curative treatments while in the care of a palliative team.
Both types of care can be given at home, in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or in the hospital itself. There are also exceptional hospice care homes and palliative care centers available in some states. Regardless of where the patient calls home, Nevada Hospice Care is always ready and willing to help in the process.
According to a recent study, families that have chosen hospice care or palliative care at the end-of-life are more satisfied with the quality of their loved one’s care. Nevada Hospice Care services can help you navigate through many common issues, such as a smooth transition from palliative care to a formal hospice setting or helping the patient get better control of their pain. More importantly, hospice allows a patient to pass away in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by loved ones, with dignity.
It is essential to keep in mind that it can be challenging for doctors to tell how just how long someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease will live. This, at times, can make it hard to try to plan for hospice care and still get it covered by insurance.
Making a plan is always the first step. Always keep in mind that with Alzheimer’s patients, time is not a luxury you have. The only way to get ready for the final stages of your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease is to talk to them. Nevada Hospice Care recommends doing this as soon as possible while the patient is still in a coherent cognitive state. We always recommend an Advanced Directive, giving a loved one power of attorney as well as laying out the patient’s final wishes for medical treatments. This will provide our hospice team a clear cut treatment plan without having to guess what the patient would have wanted, allowing for a better quality of life.
Help them fill out their advance directives that spell out their wishes. If you do not have the privilege of them still understanding, then this is where your expertise in your loved one comes into play. Only you can determine what your loved ones might have wanted towards the end.
Some other essential things you’ll need to do:
Speak often to your loved one’s primary care doctor about the outlook and timetable of the advancement of their Alzheimer’s disease and what to expect.
Make sure you have a will and all financial plans in order before your loved ones lose all cognitive thought processes.
Discuss with your loved ones their preferences on where to carry out their end-of-life process. This can be at home, in a hospital, or a nursing home. Know that none of these decisions are final, and you can always change your mind. If home care becomes too difficult, Nevada Hospice Care can always find a more suitable location. Also, remember we offer 24/7 intensive care to pull some of the burdens off of you and your family.
No matter what your final choices are for your loved ones, we know it’s never an easy decision. It all starts with making a plan, sitting down, and discussing it with your loved one. Conversations like these are never easy but are necessary. This is why Nevada Hospice Care strives to make these transitions in life as easy and as comfortable as possible. Chances are if you are reading this, you have already taken the first steps in doing your research. Now let the Nevada Hospice Care team do what we do best, take care of our patients as well as family members.