In the past year, Hope Hospice cared for nearly 500 people in our community with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and as with all of our patients, we constantly seek new and better ways to serve them and support their families.
The national Alzheimer’s Association has just released new recommendations on improving care for people with these types of illnesses. We at Hope welcome their suggestions on issues unique to people with dementia at the end of their lives, and we hope all health care providers will take note.
Among the Alzheimer’s Association’s key recommendations:
- The need for advance care planning as soon as possible after diagnosis of dementia: This includes documenting the person’s wishes regarding medical treatments in advanced stages of dementia and designation of a proxy decision maker. To aid in this process, Hope provides Advance Directives information and forms on our Web site, at www.hopehospice.org
- Provision of person-centered care to people with advanced dementia: When there is no cure, the role of hospice is to provide comfort and enable the person to live in dignity. This is a time to focus on the person, not the illness.
- The importance of dementia-specific training for residential care workers on end-of-life issues: For example, understanding the signs of end of life, pain management issues, and communicating with families. Over the past 26 years, Hope has worked closely with other local health care agencies and providers, including the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Fort Myers, to better educate the community on caring for people with dementia.
We applaud the Alzheimer’s Association for helping to raise community awareness in this way.
The number of people affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will continue to increase. Whether the patient is living at home, in a nursing home or other kind of facility, specialized high-quality care is essential to their well-being. No one in our community, patient or loved one, should go through this difficult experience without the ample support available to them. To receive our help with the dementia patient at the end of life and their family caregivers, please call Hope Hospice at (239) 482-4673, or (800) 835-1673.