The use of hospice for Alzheimer's patients can be beneficial for the patients themselves as well as family members and caregivers. Covered by insurances such as Medicare in most instances, hospice care can provide physical and emotional support to the patient and family. Once a person qualifies for hospice care, the staff can assist with providing and administering any necessary medications to the patient and can educate caregivers on how to effectively care for and support the patient. Music therapy or pet therapy may be provided by hospice for Alzheimer's patients. Assistance with personal care needs, transportation to necessary appointments, and necessary medical equipment are often included as well.
Typically, a recommendation by a doctor is required in order to begin the qualification process for hospice care for Alzheimer's patients. There may be additional requirements to be accepted, and the patient will be evaluated by members of the staff before hospice care begins. Generally speaking, the patient must be unable to perform basic self-care tasks in order to be admitted into the hospice program. This often means that the patient must be unable to dress or feed himself, have difficulty walking or bathing, or have severe communication problems.
Once accepted into the hospice for Alzheimer's disease program, supportive services can begin right away. In most cases, the Alzheimer's patient is able to remain in the home, and members of the staff will schedule regular visits to the home and provide the family with contact numbers in case there are any questions or concerns. A nurse will usually go to the home to administer any necessary medications and will provide detailed instructions and training to the family members or caregivers concerning the specific needs of the patient.
A member of the hospice for Alzheimer's disease staff may read to the patient if desired by the family, as studies have shown that hearing a gentle, calming voice may help to prevent combative behavior by those who suffer from dementia. Pet therapy or music therapy may also be beneficial, depending on the individual situation.
The hospice program often helps to provide transportation to and from doctor's appointments as well as any necessary medical equipment, such as walkers, bedside toilets, or wheelchairs. If family members need a break from the demands of caring for the chronically ill patient, a member of the staff can come into the home to allow the family to get away for a while. Grief counseling and assistance with end-of-life decisions are also offered through hospice.