Hospice care is hard, but hospice care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients is even harder. Not only is it more challenging to find the proper facilities, but it can be much more expensive.
What Defines Needing Hospice Care for Dementia
Hospice is defined as your loved one having less than six months left to live based on the disease’s normal progression and requires a referral from their physician. Acknowledging you need hospice care can be a heart-wrenching decision knowing the end is so near.
Even this grief can be confused, with some people feeling relief that their loved one’s pain and suffering are almost over. This is normal, and a good hospice system will help you deal with the emotions you face and take care of your loved one.
Choosing wisely takes a little bit of time and dedication. Not all hospice facilities can care for the needs of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Often, nurses and caregivers require special training that allows them to understand your loved one’s needs. Many of them have the educational background to cope with the difficulties of both hospice care and with people who genuinely do not understand what’s going on.
Types of Hospice Care Available
You do have choices, however. Depending on your loved one’s situation and needs, you may choose at-home hospice care or a qualified facility. Some facilities specialize in dementia and Alzheimer’s care, while others have a section dedicated to this need.
You may need hospital care in some cases, although this is seen as the last resort.
Chances are, at-home hospice care is not going to be a feasible option. The level of care dementia patients need at the end of life generally far exceeds what is capable of the family and in-home nurses can provide.
In many cases, your loved one may forget how to do fundamental physical activities such as swallowing, regular bathroom visits, or even be able to hold themselves upright. Any of these can present a dangerous situation that requires more advanced care.
If you are looking to do at-home care for your loved one, we recommend talking to your loved one’s physician to assess their physical condition and needs accurately.
Some long-term care facilities have special divisions devoted to Alzheimer’s and dementia care, while others are exclusively dedicated to this unique group. If you are choosing a facility, make sure you discuss the options for dementia care and hospice care when the need arrives. While some have hospice care, others do not.
In most cases, at the end of life, facilities like this might be your best choice for taking care of your loved one. They can provide the level of care necessary and be ready to respond to any emergencies. The nurses and caregivers in these types of hospice facilities are also trained to recognize signs of pain and instability that most at-home caregivers may not recognize. Unfortunately, pain and other signs of distress are often unrecognized in many dementia cases and can go untreated.
These types of facilities tend to be the most expensive option costing anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 per month. Medicare and some pension plans do cover the costs, but you should be prepared to cover some of these costs yourself.
Most hospitals want a quick turnover for patients staying with them. Hospice care can be drawn out and very difficult on the nurses and other caregivers that work there. We do recommend that if you have another option, choose that option over the hospital. Especially in these times of lockdowns and restrictions, they can bring great comfort to both you and your loved ones to avoid the hospital.
Making The Choice for Hospice Care
This is not an easy decision. It can be one wrapped up in guilt, relief, fear, and sadness. Choosing what is best for your loved one is a decision fraught with confusion and conflict.
We recommend doing what you can to keep your loved one in their home as much as possible. It is a financial saving for you and a comfort factor for your loved one. However, we realize this also places an additional burden upon your time and energy.
Hospice care for dementia and Alzheimer’s is one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make. Some of the resources we have both can help you navigate and talk to your family to determine the best way to care for your loved one.