Alzheimer’s dementia is the 5th leading cause of death in the United
States among Americans 65 years and older. About 70% of Americans with
dementia die in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
In many cases, hospice can improve the end of life experience for patients
with advanced dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.
From a medical perspective, the following changes in a patient may indicate
appropriateness for referral to hospice services:
- inability to dress, bathe and walk without assistance
- inability to consistently communicate verbally (speech limited to 6 words or less)
- hospitalization for one or more of these conditions within the past year:
aspiration pneumonia, urinary tract infection, septicemia, pressure ulcers,
fever (recurrent after antibiotics), unintentional weight loss or low
serum albumin (< 2.5 gm dl)
Hospice of Frederick County can support the patient and their families
by educating them on what to expect in later stages of dementia. Hospice
can also provide social worker support to help patients/families discuss
difficult issues, such as artificial hydration/nutrition (although feeding
tubes do NOT prevent aspiration).
In addition, hospice provides grief counseling for the family before, as
well as after the patient’s death.
For more research on hospice care and dementia, check out
this article on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website.