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How to Know it May be Time for Hospice

Watching someone you love suffer from Alzheimer’s or another memory debilitating illness is incredibly difficult, and it can be even more challenging to decide when it’s time to consider hospice care. Our latest video discusses the following five signs that indicate it may be time for hospice for an Alzheimer’s patient.

1. Physician determines they are at or beyond stage 7 of the Functional Assessment Staging Scale

The Functional Assessment Staging (FAST) Scale is a tool used to determine if changes in a patient’s condition are related to Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. If due to Alzheimer’s, the changes will occur in sequential order. Alzheimer’s disease-related changes do not skip FAST stages.  

2. Unable to ambulate independently

This means a person is no longer able to get around on their own. For example, they require assistance getting from room to room.

3. Requires assistance to dress or bathe

Without assistance, you may notice they put their shoes on the wrong feet or their day-time ‘street’ clothes on over their pajamas. They are also unable to bathe without assistance.

4. Becomes incontinent

This includes urinary or fecal incontinence or both.

5. Unable to speak or communicate

This may begin as the patient only saying 5-6 words per day and gradually reduce to only speaking one word clearly until they can no longer speak or communicate at all. This will also include the inability to smile.

Why Choose Hospice

Hospice care is for patients with a life limiting illness and a life expectancy of six months or less. The main focus is to manage pain and symptoms and ultimately keep the patient comfortable. When you choose hospice for your loved one, their care team can help you to understand what to expect in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. They will also provide support to you and the rest of your family throughout the end-of-life process.

If you would like more information on hospice care for Alzheimer’s patients, please contact us. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

Changes in Communication

As Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month continues, we want to discuss a very important topic- communication and Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, a person’s ability to communicate gradually diminishes. Changes in communication vary from person to person, but there are several common issues you can expect to see, including difficulty finding the right words and organizing words logically.

Effective Communication

If someone you love is living with the disease, you know it can be challenging at times to communicate with them. The video above discusses the following ten tips for effectively communicating with your loved one.

  1. Never argue. Instead, listen.
  2. Never reason. Instead, divert.
  3. Never shame. Instead, distract.
  4. Never lecture. Instead, reassure.
  5. Never say ‘remember.’ Instead, reminisce.
  6. Never say ‘you can’t.’ Instead, remind them what they can do.
  7. Never say ‘I told you.’ Instead, just repeat.
  8. Never demand. Instead, just ask.
  9. Never condescend. Instead, encourage.
  10. Never force. Instead, reinforce.

Help Make Communication Easier

In addition to these tips, there are steps you can take to help make communication easier, including:

  • Making eye contact and calling the person by name
  • Being aware of things like your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at them, and your body language
  • Encouraging two-way conversation for as long as possible
  • Using other methods, such as gently touching
  • Distracting the person if communication creates problems

You also want to encourage the person to communicate with you. You can do this by doing things like holding their hand while you talk and showing a warm, loving manner. It is also important to be patient with angry outbursts and remember that it is just the illness talking.

If The Person is Aware of Memory Loss

Since the disease is being diagnosed at earlier stages, many people are aware of how it is impacting their memory. This can make communication even more sensitive because they may become frustrated when they are aware of the memory loss. Here are some tips for how to help someone who knows they have memory problems.

  • Take time to listen. They may want to talk about the changes they are noticing
  • Be as sensitive as you can and try to understand it is a struggle for them to communicate. Don’t correct them every time they forget something or say something odd
  • Be patient when they have a difficult time finding the right words
  • Find a balance between helping them find the right words and putting words in their mouth
  • Be aware of nonverbal communication. As they lose the ability to speak clearly, they may rely on other ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings

Additional Resources

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts communication, visit the links or reach out to the contacts below:

June is…

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This month-long celebration provides the opportunity to focus on raising awareness for the 50 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. It causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of these ten signs and symptoms:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Visit the website for the Alzheimer’s Association for more information on these signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.

Take Action

There are several ways to get involved in Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month! On June 20th, join the cause by celebrating ‘The Longest Day’ through a fundraising activity of your choice! There are a variety of ways to get involved, including virtually and in-person.

So put on your purple gear, share your story of why you go purple, and join the fight to #EndAlz!

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