As Alzheimer’s progresses, it can become increasingly difficult for patients and their families to manage the physical, emotional, and logistical challenges of care. Hospice is a valuable resource that can help provide relief from these burdens while improving the comfort and quality of life for those living with the disease.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking skills. It is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term used to describe different types of memory loss. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s often progress slowly over time and can eventually lead to extremely serious issues such as personality changes, delusions, or difficulty carrying out daily activities.
The 6 Stages of Alzheimer’s
When it comes to hospice care, it is important to understand the stages of Alzheimer’s. There are six stages, ranging from no impairment to severe dementia. The stages can help with understanding the level of care that a person may require and the timing for when hospice may be appropriate.
Stage 1: No Impairment
In this stage, the individual still has all cognitive functions and can perform daily activities without difficulty. They may experience some confusion or memory loss but these are mild and not usually disabling.
Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline
During this stage, there may be isolated incidents of difficulty with cognition and memory. For example, the individual may begin to forget names or lose objects often. Daily activities such as dressing and bathing are still intact at this stage.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
In this stage, the cognitive decline becomes more noticeable and may interfere with daily activities. Memory loss is frequent, as is disorientation in unfamiliar settings. The individual may show signs of confusion or agitation, as well as difficulty controlling emotions.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
At this stage, the individual begins to need help with basic daily tasks such as bathing and dressing. They may experience increased confusion and memory loss, and become easily agitated or suspicious of those around them.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
This is the point where it becomes clear that the individual needs full-time care to provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Memory loss is severe and the individual may need prompting for basic needs such as eating and drinking.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
At this stage, hospice care may be considered. The individual is unable to perform any ADLs without full-time assistance, has become bedridden, and suffers from severe memory loss. They are at risk for other medical complications due to their condition.
When to Call Hospice for Alzheimer’s
When it comes to hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients, timing is essential. The earlier hospice care begins, the more likely it will be successful in providing comfort and dignity during an individual’s end-of-life journey.
Common Alzheimer’s signs that indicate it may be time to consider seeking hospice care:
- Difficulty performing daily activities such as bathing or dressing
- Increased confusion, agitation, and anxiety
- Increasing difficulty with mobility
- Greater dependence on caregivers for basic needs
- Progressive physical decline
- Significant weight loss or malnutrition
- Decrease in communication ability
- Frequent falls
- Sudden worsening of symptoms
- No response to medications or therapies prescribed by the doctor
How Can Hospice Help with Alzheimer’s?
Hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients is designed to provide compassionate and dignified end-of-life care. Hospice teams are experienced in managing the unique needs of those living with Alzheimer’s. They understand the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll that this condition takes on individuals and their families.
Benefits of hospice for Alzheimer’s patients include:
- Pain and symptom control that allows the individual to remain comfortable
- Physical, emotional, and spiritual support for both patient and family
- Education on disease progression and end-of-life care best practices
- Assistance with making difficult decisions about hospice services or treatments
- Helpful resources to assist with daily living tasks and activities of daily living
Hospice for Alzheimer’s in Los Angeles County
At Unique Hospice, we understand how heartbreaking it can be when someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and we strive to make this difficult transition as comfortable as possible for both patient and family. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and are considering hospice care, contact us online or call (626) 335-7077 today for more information about our services.