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How can hospice services help people with dementia?

Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Hospice services substantially improved the provision of care and support for nursing home patients dying of dementia and their families, according to a study published online in the "Journal of the American Geriatrics Society." Researchers analyzed survey responses from 538 family members of nursing home patients who died of dementia: 260 received hospice care and 278 didn't.

Family members of hospice recipients were 51% less likely to report unmet needs and concerns with quality of care, and 49% less likely to report an unmet need for management of pain. They rated the peacefulness of dying and the quality of dying more positively than families whose loved ones did not receive hospice care.

The study provides new evidence that hospice offers a meaningful benefit to nursing home patients with dementia and their families. Policymakers need to factor in this evidence as they discuss the future of Medicare funding.
Shelley Webb
Nursing

For those elders with dementia who are residing with family members in the home, hospice services are especially beneficial.

For those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or any of the other dementias, a stable routine and an unchanging environment is very important. Hospitalizations can throw these patients into delirium and sometimes, they never return. So being able to keep an elder who suffers from dementia in their familiar environment with hospice care and home health support will help to keep them calmer, more peaceful and more comfortable.

Not everyone can qualify for a hospice program. The patient's condition must be listed as terminal. But many dementia patients (depending on the progression of their disease) qualify because of their diagnosis. You can ask your loved one's physician if it is time to call in hospice care or you may want to contact a geriatric care manager who will know what circumstances need to be present in order to qualify.

Sharine Forbes
Geriatric Medicine

Hospice services are designed to meet the needs of individuals who are entering or facing their end of life. Therefore, if you have a loved one who has entered the final phase of life, then considering hospice care is highly recommended, as it can help make their final days peaceful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.