Dementia & Hospice Care
Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions
of Americans. Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common of the dementia
illnesses but other types exist including lewy body dementia, vascular
dementia, Parkinson’s disease with dementia, frontotemporal dementia,
HIV associated dementia and alcoholic dementia. All of the dementias lead
to loss of both cognitive and functional abilities over years and there
is no effective cure. Late in the disease progress, patients with dementia
have severe cognitive losses and poor language and problem solving skills.
They require supervision and assistance with simple daily tasks, including:
- Grooming and hygiene
- Dressing and undressing
- Ambulating and transferring from bed to chair
- Toileting- continence is lost late in dementia
In its terminal phase, individuals with dementia are bed-bound and require
full assistance with all of the above activities of daily living. They
experience increasing difficulty swallowing and weight loss is common.
Additionally, these affected people are at increased risk for skin breakdown
and pressure ulcers and infections such as urinary tract infections and
Hospice care of the terminally ill dementia patient focuses on optimizing
quality of life and comfort for the final months of life. Families are
taught how to best care for the bed-bound patient and to offer dementia-appropriate
activities and experiences that make every day as pleasant and rewarding
as possible. Keeping patient’s clean and protecting their dignity
and privacy are paramount to the hospice philosophy. Feeding strategies
that minimize risk for choking and maximize pleasure are also a basic
tenet of hospice care. Families caring for a loved one with dementia benefit
from the support of the hospice team and hospice care is coordinated in
an individualized fashion that best fits the family unit of each patient.
For more information or to reach out to our staff directly, please contact
our offices by calling (240) 566-3030.