Talking about hospice care can bring about uncomfortable feelings for many, often rooted in a lack of knowledge and misconceptions. It’s no wonder that many avoid thinking about or discussing it with family or physicians for as long as possible. However, I would like to gently guide you into a new way of thinking about hospice care as a central Dementia Aware support resource.
In addition to not wanting to confront the reality brought about by the need for hospice care, many delay these important conversations because they feel like it’s too early to start thinking about these arrangements. It’s important to know that dementia is terminal and, if someone is living with advanced dementia symptoms, they are nearing the end of their life. Because dementia symptoms progress so gradually, I am a huge advocate of early hospice and palliative dementia care interventions to prepare.
It is never too early, and it is never too late; as soon as a caregiver feels that they need additional help and that it may be time to transition to hospice care, that is the best time to seek out information and to form a plan. While a physician must make the official determination whether or not it is time to seek out hospice care based on life expectancy, there are a few ways to know if it’s time to seek out an evaluation:
- Constantly elevated levels of anxiety and stress.
- Complete dependence on others for assistance with daily living (grooming, bathing, eating and toileting).
- Extreme difficulty or complete inability to walk.
- Inability to only speak a few unintelligible words or phrases.
While this can be a challenging decision, the most important thing to remember is that you are making this decision from a place of love. Nobody should go through the very difficult process of caring for someone at the end of their life alone. Hospice care can ensure a dignified experience and a peaceful passing with comfortable last days for your loved one, instead of aggressive interventions that are the opposite.
When you can no longer provide the level of care needed, the most compassionate thing you can do is seek out the resources to do so. As always, I am here to support you throughout your caregiver journey, wherever you are on it. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected].