Is Hospice The Right Treatment For Alzheimer?


Hospice is unfamiliar to a lot of people, and understandably so.  Rather than attempting to cure people, hospice attempts to make the last stages of an incurable disease as enjoyable as possible, choosing to treat the person rather than treating the disease.  Because of this, hospice is considered one of the most humane and compassionate forms of care, and many people are very thankful they have the option to use it in the later stages of a disease such as Alzheimer’s.

The hospice philosophy simply stated is that it neither hastens nor postpones death, but rather places emphasis on quality of life, rather than length of life.  Hospice supporters believe in family centered care, involving both the patient and the family in the care, rather than some doctor deciding what’s best for the patient.  One of the advantages of hospice care is that it can be administered in a variety of locations, including a hospital, a nursing home, a private hospice facility, or even the patient’s home.  In the vast majority of hospice in the U.S., the primary caregiver is a family member.

Hospice care is only given when medicine has done all it can do, and the life expectancy of the patient is six months or less.  The patient, the patient’s family and the doctor decide when hospice should begin.

There are several different types of hospice care to be aware of.  The first type is what’s more commonly known as an interdisciplinary team, which is compromised of various professionals, such as nurses, doctors, councilors, therapists and volunteers.  They each specialize in a different part of caring for the patient.

Another thing that distinguishes hospice from traditional medicine is the fact that hospice focuses on pain and symptom control.  The basic practice behind that is that the patient is to remain free of pain, while being able to make any important decisions.

Hospice care also delves into spiritual care.  Since everyone is different, and has different spiritual beliefs, the type of care hospice provides is changed on a person-to-person basis, to meet the main needs of the patient.

Another huge benefit of hospice is care is the fact that the nurse or social work involved in the patient’s case will often call family conferences.  This allows the family to stay informed, open up to each other, and helps prepare for them for what to expect later on.  It takes a huge weight off of the family.

As mentioned before, hospice care can take place in a wide selection of places.  The preferred method of hospice care is in the patient’s home, with up to 90% of people on hospice care choosing to receive their treatment that way – and why not?  After all, most people find it much more comforting to be in their home, rather than a bland hospital that holds no memories for them.  A family member who is living with the patient generally administers home hospice care.  After a short training period, professionals such as nurses will begin to check in every now and then.  They will help you learn what you can improve upon, and what you can do to make the patient’s life easier.

Hospital-Based hospices are usually found in those hospitals that treat extremely ill patients.  The hospice program is set up in a way that the family and patient both have access to all the support and health services in the hospital.  Due to the close proximity of everything that is needed, a hospital can be good if a variety of different medical professionals are needed.

Lastly, there are the long-term facility-based hospices.  Essentially these are nursing homes, only they have a specially trained nursing staff to help care for the people that need them.

To decide if a hospice treatment is right for you, you first have to look at your options.  After looking at your options, decide if it’s worth it to continue medical treatment, or if you should revert to a hospice treatment to ease the suffering of the last few days.  In the end, it’s up to the patient, and what they would prefer.