Alzheimer’s is a very common disease affecting more than three million people in the US each year–most of them 60 or older. While there is currently no cure, there are numerous treatments available to manage the illness. If the person is diagnosed early, they may be able to utilize more treatment options, allowing them to maintain their independence for as long as possible. There are many warnings, signs and symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia but a few stand out as being very common.
While a certain level of memory decline is to be expected with aging, the difficulties associated with Alzheimer’s are much more pronounced. Typically Alzheimer’s will affect the short-term memory while older long-term memories can still be recalled. An example of this can be someone constantly asking the same questions even after they have been answered or not remembering something that happened moments ago. Forgetting a name or a date occasionally is nothing to be alarmed over but if it is a common occurence, it may be worth examining.
Along with short-term memory, those developing dementia will forget the names of objects as well as have difficulty with basic communication skills. It is common for the person to have trouble expressing their ideas or getting out the right words. Getting lost in the middle of a thought or repeating the same phrases multiple times are some other examples. They may also have trouble following along and participating in conversation.
A big indicator for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are changes in mood and personality. Oftentimes the person will become upset more easily and stay upset as a general demeanor. Depression is usually related to dementia as well. An important sign to be aware of is the person’s personality changing noticeably. A shy person becoming more outgoing or vice-versa are two common examples of these changes.
Stemming from the impaired mental strength and memory loss is a general sense of confusion. This can also lead to the frustration and depression the person experiences. For instance, a person may lose their sense of direction and begin to have an impaired sense of judgment. They may also have trouble recognizing where they are and what is happening at the present time.
All of these symptoms go hand-in-hand with one another and influence other warning signs and mental changes for dementia. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing some of these warning signs, please don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor. Ignoring the problems won’t help them to get better but seeking treatment will help prolong the quality of life.
Making the decision to seek hospice care is an important one, but equally important is choosing which hospice provider to use. It’s not necessarily a difficult choice but it can seem daunting at first due to the sizable amount of care providers probably available to you.
We’ve talked about the benefits of not delaying hospice care , and it bears repeating since it is easier to choose the hospice right for you when you have a little time to decide. With those things in mind, let’s take a look at some helpful guidelines for selecting the right hospice provider for you and your loved ones.
Seek a recommendation from a trusted source
Most hospice providers offer the same basic services but not all may be the right fit for your situation. Word-of-mouth from a source that you know and trust remains one of the best ways to find an appropriate hospice provider. Your doctor and social worker should be able to direct you to some quality choices as well as have experience working with them and understanding the services they can provide. Friends or family members that have had experience with hospice care can also offer their unique and personal insight as well.
Make a list of questions to ask your preferred provider(s)
Specific and direct questions can be great guidelines in helping you to determine what is important for hospice care in your situation. When you meet with a community liaison or representative from the hospice provider, they will be able to answer your questions and explain how their care fits your needs. A few common questions to think about are:
- How quickly will care be implemented and symptoms managed?
- Which specific services does the hospice team provide or not provide?
- What will be the relationship with the family caregiver?
- What is the process for after-hours or weekend care, specifically in the event of a crisis?
How you feel about a specific provider?
While it is important to keep a clear and rational head during these difficult times, it is still a very emotional stage of life. Don’t ignore your own feelings with regard to the chemistry of the hospice provider and/or their representative. If everything sounds good on paper but it still doesn’t “feel right”, don’t be afraid to seek other options. Remember that this is more than a medical decision, this is a decision about the final moments and connections between you, your loved one and the hospice care team. There needs to be a personal connection of some kind for the best results.
Making the decision to pursue hospice care is not an easy one and, while we hope you consider Bridgeway Hospice, we wish you and your loved ones comfort and peace no matter which hospice provider you choose.
When a patient enters hospice care, who actually provides the care? The hospice care team is a full, interdisciplinary team including fully trained and certified nurses, aides, counselors and more. While it may be confusing at first as to which roles these team members play, they all fulfill vital needs within the scope of hospice care.
Physician – Every hospice team is overseen by a physician or medical director. This leader will closely monitor the patient’s illness, medications and care direction throughout the duration of care. The medical director physician may also work with the patient’s preferred doctor.
Nurse – Specially skilled, nurses are both caregivers and links between the hospice team, the patient and the family. They provide regular care for the comfort of the patient as well as the family. They also help the family to give the best possible support and care to the hospice patient
Aide – Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) also known as home health aides, they provide personal care to the patient such as help with feeding and grooming. These aides specially tend to the more sensitive and personal needs of the hospice patient in a kind and gentle manner.
Social Worker – Kind and listening, this part of the team helps tend to the emotional and social needs of the patient and their loved ones. They also help those in their care by providing access to community resources and assistance, such as transportation and financial aid. The social worker also handles the logistics of insurance, Medicare and other financial methods so that the family doesn’t have to.
Volunteer – A crucial piece of the hospice team, volunteers serve in many roles. They can provide compassion and companionship to hospice patients and their families. Often they will lend a helping hand through pet therapy, music therapy and story sharing with the hospice patient. Additionally, they provide support to the caregivers as needed.
Chaplain – In such a sensitive time as hospice care, it is natural for patients and their loved ones to seek spiritual guidance, in whatever capacity they choose. Hospice chaplains are there to honor and uphold the patient’s cultural and religious values while offering spiritual guidance in this difficult time. They will also work with leaders and clergy of the patient’s own faith, as requested.
Bereavement Counselor – A bereavement specialist is available for the family during and after a patient’s time with hospice. They are trained and skilled in providing individual counseling and support for over a year after the patient’s passing. Regular contact, education and support groups are just some of the ways bereavement counselors help guide the bereaved through this transition.
Bridgeway Hospice is very proud of all of the members of our hospice teams and works consistently to help them grow while bringing the best service to you and your family.
Bridgeway Hospice is proud to partner with We Honor Veterans, an awareness program and collaboration between the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the goal of guiding veterans to a peaceful end of life. The NHPCO is the largest nonprofit hospice and palliative care organization in the US. It is committed to expanding access to hospice care and to enhance quality of life for veterans and their loved ones to “guide them through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.”
“America’s veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. Now it is time that we step up, acquire the necessary skills and fulfill our mission to serve these men and women with the dignity they deserve,” says J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.
The We Honor Veteran program has 4 main goals:
- Promote education of veterans and their needs.
- Increase the organizations ability to serve veterans.
- Support community partnerships.
- Increase the access and quality of care available to veterans.
We Honor Veterans recognizes their community partners through a wide and comprehensive set of resources provided to the organizations to implement best practices for end-of-life care to the veterans in their charge. Through these resources and recognizing the special needs of our country’s veterans, hospice and palliative care partners can best guide our veterans and their families toward a peaceful rest.
In many cases there are special needs related to the veteran’s service, experience and possible traumatic events. Through We Honor Veterans, care providers can find the resources they need to give the best support to the veterans in their care.
Through programs like these and the partnerships and resources that We Honor Veterans provides, Bridgeway Hospice is proud to offer the care and compassion that our veterans have earned and deserve.