The Facts About Hospice for Alzheimer’s
There are many misconceptions about what qualifies a person for hospice care. We review the why Alzheimer’s is a terminal diagnosis, how and when a person qualifies, and what benefits are included with hospice for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
How did you feel when you or your loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease? Shock? Confusion? Sadness? Probably some combination of all the above and then some. Alzheimer’s disease changes everything.
As the disease causes more and more damage to the brain and neurons, more and more aspects of daily life are affected. Initially, you or your loved one can mostly retain independence. There will be a few things that need to change or get help with. Soon normal day to day activities, like bathing and dressing, become more and more tedious. You may have trouble communicating and even struggle with personality changes.
In the end though, a person with Alzheimer’s requires around the clock care and assistance. Movement becomes impaired to such a degree that you can’t even get out of bed. You lose the ability to eat, use the bathroom, and walk.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is fatal. There are no cures or treatments to slow the progression.
How does Alzheimer’s kill you?
In 2020, according to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 134,242 deaths in the United States. That puts Alzheimer’s disease as the #7 overall direct cause of death. But it is probably much, much higher.
Alzheimer’s disease makes a person more likely to:
- Have multiple comorbid diseases
- More likely to die from these diseases
A recent study looked at causes of death over the first decade of the 21st century (2000-2009). They found that 5% of the deaths had Alzheimer’s and other dementias listed as the primary cause of death. However, the real number of deaths was closer to 14%.
As noted by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Irrespective of the cause of death among people age 70, 61% of those with Alzheimer’s dementia are expected to die before age 80 compared with 30% of people without Alzheimer’s dementia.”
The reality is that with the population aging at an unprecedented rate, we could soon see the day when Alzheimer’s and other dementias is the #1 cause of death in the USA.
When does a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease Qualify for Hospice?
With all that being said, when is the right time to think about hospice? Hospice is considered when a patient:
- Is unable to ambulate alone
- Has a limited vocabulary of 6 words or less
- Is unable to dress or bath without assistance
- Has urinary and fecal incontinence
- Has lost the ability to sit up, smile or hold their head up
In addition to this, there are other conditions that the patient will have experienced over the past year. A patient will qualify for hospice if, in addition to the above, the patient has had any of the following:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Pyelonephritis or any other upper urinary tract infection
- Multiple, stage 3-4 decubitus ulcers
- Recurrent fever after antibiotics
- Inability to maintain sufficient fluid and calorie intake, with 10% weight loss over the past 6 months
Managing Alzheimer’s Disease with Active Hospice
Active Hospice is here to help. Our loving care team consists of our medical director, nurses, CNAs, social workers, chaplains and so many more. We understand the burden that Alzheimer’s brings, not only to the patient but the family as well.
Our individualized care plans can help with pain, eating and drinking problems, infections, breathlessness, agitation, delirium, incontinence, bed sores and more. Our team provides help with day-to-day tasks. We assist with end-of-life planning and help the patient and the family with grief and bereavement.
Some of the benefits from managing Alzheimer’s Disease with Active Hospice include:
- Improved symptom relief
- Prevent unnecessary and burdensome treatments
- Reduce caregiver burden
- Enhanced quality of life for the patient and the caregiver
- Better end of life planning
- Respite Care
Why Choose Active Hospice?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease. Caring for someone with advanced Alzheimer’s usually requires around-the-clock care. Active Hospice provides the comfort, quality and control over your end of life situation. Give us a call today to see how we can actively serve you through life’s final journey.