If you are a Georgia caregiver of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s, you know firsthand the debilitating toll this disease takes on a person and on their family. In Georgia, the number of people living with the Alzheimer’s disease is high and climbing every day. Our state is predicted to have one of the largest increases in the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the country over the next decade.
We all know that hospice can improve the quality of life for people with end stage Alzheimer’s disease. The challenge comes in determining when that is. Because the disease is so physically debilitating as it progresses, including robbing a person of their ability to communicate, families often struggle with knowing where their loved one is in the disease process and if they are eligible for the added benefit of hospice care. Even physicians aren’t always clear on what qualifies a person with Alzheimer’s disease for hospice.
At Halcyon Hospice, our goal for the Alzheimer’s and dementia patients we are fortunate to take care of is to manage pain and symptoms. We know the physical symptoms that may indicate they are in pain and we understand how to communicate with them despite their inability to verbalize what they are feeling.
We generally advise families and our physician partners to consider the following when they are considering calling hospice for help:
- Has the person had a 10% weight loss in the last 6 months?
- Have they experienced frequent falls or are they unable to walk without assistance?
- Is their ability to communicate verbally impaired or gone completely?
- Are they incontinent of bowel or bladder?
These questions may provide families with a place to begin in determining whether or not a loved one with dementia may be eligible for care under the Medicare guidelines. For families in Georgia, we are happy to help you to better understand what Medicare requires for an Alzheimer’s patient to receive hospice care. You can call us directly at (855) 328-1700. We have also created this information card that you can download to share with family and your loved one’s physician.