February 23, 2017
Supporting Patients with Advanced Dementia at End of Life
by Stephanie Patel, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Care Dimensions
Caring for a person with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at end of life can be exceptionally challenging because the patient is not only dealing with physical decline and illness, but also the neuropsychiatric behaviors that are common with these diseases. Symptoms and behaviors such as personality changes, loss of communication, loss of inhibition, agitation, anxiety, wandering, sleep problems, delusions, depression, and other mood disturbances have a significant effect on the patient’s quality of life and complicate caring for them.
Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston, offers a dementia support program for patients with advanced dementia at end of life. We develop a personalized care plan tailored to the individual needs of the patient and their family that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual distress that may occur with advanced dementia. Our team has special training to help assess the physical issues and manage symptoms in patients who oftentimes have difficulty communicating.
Benefits of the Hospice Dementia Support Program:
- Pain and symptom management
- Nursing support available 24/7
- Experienced hospice aides specially trained to work with cognitively-impaired patients
- Care provided at home, long-term care facility, hospital, or assisted living community
- Hospice volunteers trained in dementia care provide support and companionship
- Complementary therapies: music therapy, pet therapy, and massage therapy offer comfort
- Grief support for families
- Ongoing education and resources for family and professional caregivers
- Lending a Helping Hand
Social interaction is also an important part of our care plan. Specially trained volunteers are equipped with a bag of therapy tools that help them connect through sight, sound and touch with patients who have impaired memory or difficulty communicating. Nancy Usher, a Care Dimensions volunteer who has worked for many years with dementia patients adds, “When you care for a patient suffering from dementia, you must come equipped with compassion and the ability to deal from the patient’s reality rather than your own.”
To help Caregivers who are currently caring for a loved one with advanced dementia or other life limiting illness, Care Dimensions is offering a monthly Caregiver Support Group where participants can find mutual support from others, reduce the stress related to caregiving and gain tools to assist them in their caregiving journey. The drop-in group meets on Monday, March 13 and April 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Kaplan Family Hospice House, 78 Liberty Street, Danvers. For questions, please contact Patrice Depasquale, LICSW at 978-223-9726 or email pdepasquale@CareDimensions.org.
If you are wondering if the dementia support program may be right for your loved one, please call the experts at Care Dimensions. Anyone can make a hospice referral or inquiry by calling us at 888-287-1255 or visit www.CareDimensions.org.
Care Dimensions Hospice House Video Tour
The Care Dimensions Hospice House, located in Lincoln on the Waltham town line, is a gracious and private home-like setting for patients who need hospital-level care for complex pain and symptom management. To learn more, call our Referral Center at 888-287-1255.