It’s Not Just for Cancer Patients: When we think of hospice care we often associate it with cancer patients, but it’s also valuable for advanced stage Alzheimer’s patients. In that stage the person is unable to walk, dress or bathe without help; has trouble controlling urine and/or bowel functions; and only rarely speaks meaningful sentences.
More Specific Signs that You Should Consider Hospice Care: According to Gregg Warshaw, MD, Director of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and Past President of the American Geriatric Society, if your loved one with advanced Alzheimer’s is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it’s time to talk to his or her doctor about considering hospice care:
1. Two or more episodes of pneumonia or other serious infections during the past 6-months
2. Difficulty eating and swallowing, even with feeding help, that results in weight loss of 10% or more over the preceding 6 months
3. One or more skin pressure ulcers that are not healing
Although starting hospice care for a loved one is a somber and painful experience, just remember it will help both you and your loved one have the highest possible quality of life during the precious time that is left.
Where to Find Additional Information: The Hospice Foundation of America (www.hospicefoundation.org) is an excellent source for more information on this topic.