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:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming and hygiene
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Feeding
  • 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 pneumonia.

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 patients 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.

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