Hospice Care for Advanced Dementia: When Is It Time?

Hospice has long been known for the ability to provide comfort and
dignity throughout the dying process. Sadly, too few people are aware
that a person does not have to be dying from cancer or experiencing
excruciating pain in order to take advantage of end-of-life care.
Hospice care is effective for patients suffering from a wide variety of
chronic conditions, including heart failure, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke,
renal failure, liver failure and even dementia.

Unlike
other serious illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias
are extremely difficult to categorize into the neat stages of
progression that are typically used to determine whether hospice care is
appropriate. Life expectancy is difficult, if not impossible, to
pinpoint for patients affected by AD or other forms of cognitive
impairment, such as vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia and
frontotemporal dementia. Furthermore, patients in the later stages of
these conditions are usually unable to communicate
pain, discomfort, wants and needs. This means that family caregivers
and even their loved ones’ physicians can have a tough time deciding
when to call in hospice.

Carol Bradley Bursack,   Minding Our Elders     |    Updated  July 24, 2018

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Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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