Most people classify dementia as a memory disorder that doesn’t affect one’s lifespan. Although early diagnoses rarely include life-ending symptoms, note that dementia is a degenerative condition that ultimately stops brain function. Hence, causing death. Sadly, the lack of urgency often delays the necessary hospice care — depriving patients of the quality of life they deserve.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage anyone living with dementia patients to look into dementia and hospice care. Hopefully, your loved one won’t require it anytime soon. However, understanding the criteria for hospice care for dementia patients will help you identify the most appropriate time to consider end-of-life care if the need arises.
What is hospice care for dementia patients? Hospice care includes specialized end-of-life nursing options focused on managing symptoms — not treating them. Note that hospice care only applies to terminally-ill patients. It focuses on improving one’s quality of life as he or she approaches his or her final days.
However, don’t confuse hospice care for elderly dementia patients with palliative care. The latter involves treatment options. Meanwhile, hospice care accepts the possibility of death. It halts unnecessarily stressful treatments and focuses solely on making advanced dementia patients feel as comfortable as possible.
Before proceeding further, we want to emphasize that you shouldn’t feel guilty about considering hospice dementia care. Remember: this specialized program helps advanced, terminally ill patients. Don’t automatically reject the idea of integrating hospice and dementia care, or else your loved one will continue suffering needlessly.
What Hospice Can Do
Many overlook the criteria for hospice care for dementia patients because they don’t understand end-of-life support yet. We know that hospice dementia care is a touchy subject. However, you’ll deprive your loved one of their well-deserved comfortable, enjoyable final days if you reject it altogether.
To help you learn more about hospice and dementia care, we made a brief roundup of the most common hospice services patients receive, including the following:
- Creation of an Individualized Care Plan: Advanced dementia patients can no longer convey their thoughts and track their personal needs. Fortunately, hospice nurses can advocate for them. They’ll create a unique, individualized care plan revolving around the patient’s toileting, bathing, eating, hydrating, and even cosmetic needs. Caregivers can refer to these plans daily.
- Care For Someone Wherever They Reside: Many terminally ill patients prefer spending their final days at home. Nothing feels more comfortable than your abode, after all. For this reason, nurses are amenable to traveling to their patient’s homes for hospice care services. The patient’s family can set daily or weekly schedules.
- Coordination At Every Phase: Hospice nurses communicate with their patients through every phase of hospice care. Again, hospice dementia care involves terminally ill patients. Nurses are responsible for reporting any significant developments so that their patients are always in the loop.
- Spiritual And Emotional Support: Terminally ill patients feel a wave of mixed emotions. It’s normal for them to feel angry, depressed, anxious, nervous, sad, and confused simultaneously. However, most can’t bear these feelings. The best that hospice care nurses can do during these trying times is reassure their patients and make themselves available.
What Hospice Can Do For Patient’s Family
People have many misconceptions about dementia and hospice care. They assume that patients only want end-of-life care after giving up on life. We want to debunk this myth.
Please understand that forcing terminally ill dementia patients to undergo multiple rounds of treatments only prolongs their suffering. In the worst case, they might not even spend their final days lucid.
You don’t have to force your family into anything. However, at least understand the benefits of hospice care for elderly dementia patients, which include:
- Caregiver Training And Education: Family caregivers play a crucial role in their client’s quality of life. However, they might not have training in hospice care. Fortunately, hospice nurses can work with caregivers to provide the best possible end-of-life care possible for their mutual patients.
- Help With Challenging Decisions: The authority to make medical decisions on behalf of your dementia-stricken loved one comes with a weighted responsibility. It requires medical knowledge and mental fortitude. We suggest working with a professional hospice nurse so that you won’t have to make any serious decisions alone. You can’t risk making mistakes.
- On-call Nurse 24/7: Nurses that provide hospice care for elderly dementia patients are available 24/7 for emergency assistance. You never know when someone terminally ill might need help, after all. The only way to minimize potential damage in these instances is to have a reliable, skilled hospice nurse on standby.
- Spiritual And Emotional Support: Hospice nurses know how to provide emotional and spiritual support to patients and their families. Advanced dementia is a grave complication. Having a compassionate, reliable medical professional to depend on during these trying times makes a significant difference.
- Financial Assistance: Between hospice and dementia care, medical bills could quickly rack up to thousands in just a few days. Nurses can’t provide financial assistance directly. However, they can advise their patient’s families on the best financial routes to take and introduce several ways to minimize the dues.
- Respite Care: Hospital nurses are available to provide respite care whenever needed. Caregivers have their own lives to live, and they deserve to take some time off to recharge and detach themselves from their jobs. Caregiving duties come with a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional stress.
- Bereavement Services: Hospice nurses can help their patient’s loved ones come to terms with the possibility of death. Terminally ill patients don’t have much hope left for recovery. As such, their families should at least start preparing themselves mentally and emotionally for all the possible outcomes.