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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. Here, we are sharing five signs it may be the right time to consider the extra support of hospice care for an Alzheimer’s patient.
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.
This means a person is no longer able to get around on their own. For example, they require assistance getting from room to room.
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.
This includes urinary or fecal incontinence or both.
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.
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.
This May, join us in celebration of America’s 4.4 million registered nurses who make a touching difference in the lives of patients and their families. Exceptional nurses often have a true passion for helping others, backed by compassion and empathy.
In honor of this month, we express our appreciation for home health nurses, hospice nurses, and nurses who work in the skilled nursing facilities that partner with us as hospice and home health providers.
Nurses make a profound impact in improving the quality of life of individuals in skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and home health care. We invite social workers, medical professionals, and anyone who has been touched by a nurse to celebrate Nurse Appreciation Month with us. This is your reminder to thank your nurses and show you appreciate their “special touch”.
Nurses working in skilled nursing facilities serve a vital role in helping individuals get back on their feet after an injury or illness. While in rehabilitative nursing care, patients are supported by nurses who are committed to helping them improve their quality of life and regain strength during recovery.
Often, it is because of the support from nurses in rehabilitative nursing care that individuals can safely return to their homes for ongoing support from home health nurses. This allows individuals to continue recovering from the comfort of their own homes.
Throughout the month of May, we also recognize and show we appreciate the exceptional home health nurses that support patients in their homes. Home health nurses play a vital role in supporting an individual’s road to recovery as they strive to regain independence and autonomy in the home. Home health staff support the holistic health of individuals beyond physical care by also providing social and emotional support.
Hospice nurses have a special role in the lives of patients diagnosed with a terminal illness and their families. Nurses providing end-of-life care through hospice services help reduce unnecessary pain and suffering, making individuals as comfortable as possible in their final months or days of life. In addition, hospice nurses generously share their skills and compassion to provide supportive care that improves an individual’s quality of life, developing strong bonds with patients and their families.
Often, hospice nurses go above and beyond the call of duty, showing exceptional compassion for those nearing the end of their life. Not only do hospice nurses support an individual’s wishes, but they also provide support resources for family and friends during difficult times. Most families never forget the lasting impact the nurses made during an incredibly challenging period in their life.
Nurses in skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and home health nurses demonstrate admirable qualities such as compassion, patience, and empathy. On behalf of our team and our partners, we honor the champions that have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of others. We couldn’t do it without you!
April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), designed to “inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.” Being diagnosed with a terminal illness can be overwhelming for individuals and their families.
When diagnosed with a terminal illness, knowing where to turn next can be difficult. Furthermore, many people have misconceptions about hospice and when it should be introduced. This article will break down these common misconceptions surrounding hospice.
Hospice care is for people with a prognosis of 6 months or less if their disease runs its natural course. This type of care focuses on making those with a terminal illness as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Hospice care includes social, medical, emotional, and spiritual support. The goal of hospice care is to provide terminally ill patients the opportunity to live the last stages of their life with comfort and dignity.
Unfortunately, many common misconceptions surrounding hospice may prevent individuals from taking advantage of hospice’s many benefits. One common misconception is that “hospice is a place.” However, hospice can be provided wherever a patient is located, which sometimes includes right in their home. Another common misconception is that “hospice is giving up,” but this could not be further from the truth. Many people end up living longer in hospice or sometimes graduate from hospice and no longer qualify.
While on hospice, patients can choose to keep their primary care physician (PCP). Hospice care staff will work with your PCP and other healthcare professionals to provide collaborative care. Some people also avoid hospice care because they feel it is “pointless” as their illness is terminal. While curative treatment may no longer be an option, that doesn’t mean other efforts serve no purpose. Living with a terminal illness can often cause individuals lots of pain. That’s why hospice care is a great option, as it serves to make individuals as comfortable and pain-free as possible. These supportive measures are key in the final stages of a person’s life.
Instead of waiting until the very end to receive hospice care, individuals with a terminal illness can fully benefit from hospice care sooner rather than later. Others may decide to stop hospice to try another experimental treatment. Hospice can be designed to work for each patient’s individual needs. With hospice, you or your loved one are in the “driver’s seat” of your own healthcare decisions.
Hospice care is a great healthcare option when curative treatment is no longer viable. Furthermore, hospice isn’t just for the last days or weeks of life. Hospice can support individuals for several months. Don’t let the common misconceptions surrounding hospice hold you or a loved one back from receiving supportive care.
Our care team supports patients in determining their own goals of care during the final stages of their illness. Our hospice care service focuses on comfort, support, quality of life, and education. Contact us today to discuss your questions and personal needs.
Did you know that March is National Kidney Health Awareness month? Each March helps raise awareness about promoting good kidney health and highlights how home health and hospice care can help support those with kidney disease.
Sadly, kidney disease is often referred to as a silent disease that can manifest without the presence of many symptoms in its early stages. Often, individuals diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) are unaware of their condition until it has advanced to later stages.
Before you can understand ways to protect your kidneys, it’s vital to understand the critical function of kidneys in the body. Kidneys help regulate the body’s fluid levels, filtering out waste and toxins from the bloodstream. In addition, your kidneys release an essential hormone in blood pressure regulation. Kidneys also serve many secondary purposes, such as activating Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones and keeping blood minerals like potassium and sodium in the correct balance.
With all these vital functions in mind, it’s clear that protecting your body’s kidneys is crucial to good health.
Promoting good kidney health starts with protecting your kidneys. First and foremost, drinking enough fluids daily keeps your kidneys functioning effectively. Adults who do not have a diagnosed kidney condition should drink about 9 to 13 cups of fluid daily, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Your diet and lifestyle are also quite important to maintaining good kidney health. By eating a well-rounded diet and maintaining a healthy body weight, you’ll help protect your kidneys from many factors that contribute to kidney damage. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. It may take time, but developing a regular exercise routine can go a long way in helping support your overall health, as well as your kidney health.
Drinking too much alcohol can also wreak havoc on your kidneys and put them at risk for kidney disease. Consume alcohol in moderation. In addition, smokers are at an increased risk for kidney disease.
If you or a loved one has received a kidney disease health diagnosis, there is help. Our team offers supportive in-home services for individuals in need. We review services for individuals on dialysis on a case-by-case basis. Some individuals can continue dialysis treatments while also receiving supportive home health or hospice services. To learn more about how home health and hospice services can help you or a loved one, speak to a representative to discuss your unique situation.
Interested in learning more about the home health or hospice services available to individuals receiving dialysis? Contact us today.
Some older adults and people with serious illnesses, unfortunately, experience the end of life in certain healthcare settings that do not align with their desired wishes. If you have a serious illness or are a caregiver of someone planning end-of-life care, knowing the difference between palliative care and hospice care can help you make an informed decision when the time comes to transition to one of these healthcare settings.
Palliative care is a form of care that focuses on improving your quality of life and that of your family when you are living with a serious illness. It focuses on your whole-person health rather than only on your condition. If you are receiving palliative care, your treatment plan may focus on reducing symptoms of your illness and on improving secondary conditions such as depression, sleep deprivation, and side effects of medications.
Palliative care may be given in various healthcare settings, such as at the hospital, a residential care facility, or your home. Anyone can receive this type of care regardless of age or the severity of their condition.
If you receive palliative care, you may work with and be treated by various healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, counselors, and nutritionists. If you need spiritual care, your palliative care team may even include a chaplain. The healthcare professionals that make up your palliative care team will depend mainly on your recovery needs and level of care.
Studies show that palliative care offers many benefits, including:
Hospice care focuses on improving your comfort and quality of life when you are nearing the end of your life. This type of care is usually given in circumstances in which an illness continues to progress despite treatment or when the patient chooses not to receive certain treatments. Hospice care is similar to palliative care in that it provides comfort care and support for the family. However, treatments are not given to improve the illness.
Like palliative care, hospice care can be given in many different healthcare settings, though it is most frequently given at your home, where you can be most comfortable and spend quality time with your loved ones. In addition, it is typically given when your healthcare provider believes you have no more than six months to live. Some benefits of hospice care include 24/7 access to nurses and healthcare workers who can address and relieve symptoms and side effects and access to medical equipment and medications that can reduce your discomfort.
Many of the same types of healthcare professionals that make up a palliative care team will also be part of your hospice care team. This includes doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers who dedicate their time to giving you the support you need and making you feel as comfortable as possible during your final months.
To be eligible for hospice care, you will discontinue aggressive treatment efforts to combat your terminal illness (such as experimental surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy, or other treatments that require prolonged hospitalization and recovery). However, you may continue to receive treatments for other conditions, such as antidepressants to treat depression or insulin medicines to control Diabetes.
Comfort care and end-of-life care are both terms that describe the type of care you receive when you are near the end of your life and are no longer receiving treatment for your illness. It is highly similar to palliative care in providing you with whole-person care that focuses on your physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health. Comfort care and end-of-life care may include palliative care or hospice care, or a combination of both.
Sometimes, palliative care is given as part of hospice care, and both types share many similarities. For instance, the goal of both palliative and hospice care is to improve your quality of life and help you find relief from painful and severe symptoms and side effects of treatment. Both types of care also focus on whole-person health. However, there remain many differences between palliative care and hospice care.
Some of these differences are:
You may want to consider palliative care if you or your loved one has a serious illness or chronic condition that requires long, intensive care or that causes severe physical symptoms and/or emotional distress. For example, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, and kidney failure are some of the many conditions that can benefit from palliative care.
Additionally, palliative care may benefit you if you:
A person may transition from palliative care to hospice care if their doctor thinks they have no longer than six months to live. Sometimes, it can be difficult for doctors to predict exactly how long it will take for a particular disease to run its course or how long a person has left to live if their health is in decline. In these circumstances, it’s important to consider how transitioning to hospice care could improve your quality of life during your final months.
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), doctors should strongly consider referring chronically ill patients to hospice care if they spend more than half their time in bed, are unable to function efficiently, and are experiencing both physical and psychological distress. The NLM adds that hospice referrals are usually necessary when the patient’s condition has progressively declined to the point that their highest priority is to take control of their healthcare and achieve the greatest possible comfort in their homes as they near the end of life.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may need hospice care but aren’t sure when you should transition out of palliative care. Your doctor can talk to you at length about your options and the benefits of transitioning to hospice care based on your condition and unique circumstances.
Taking advantage of hospice care as soon as it’s needed could result in access to quality care and lots of extra quality time to spend with your loved ones. Additionally, studies show that patients who plan their care in advance are more likely to be satisfied with their care, given how they can make decisions that align with their end-of-life wishes.
Consult with your healthcare provider if you or your loved one is interested in learning more about palliative care or hospice care. Your doctor can refer you to a palliative or hospice care specialist who can answer all your questions and help you determine which of these services may be more ideal.
Palliative care and hospice care are covered by many major health insurance providers, including Medicare. The exact benefits covered will vary based on your health plan. Benefits covered may include medical equipment and supplies, skilled nursing care, bereavement support, and medications to provide comfort, among many others.
Hospice At Your Side has resources for home health and hospice services throughout the United States. Specialty services we offer include diabetes care, orthopedics, and pain management. Call us today to learn more about our many home healthcare services.
With a big initiative to provide education and resources to improve the physical health of more people around the world, the mental health of our society cannot be overlooked in achieving this goal. World Mental Health Day, which falls within Mental Illness Awareness Week, is a dedicated day that is honored globally once a year. While mental illness must be acknowledged and supported 365 days of the year, World Mental Health Day is a dedicated time during which the world comes together to raise awareness, increase support, and decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness. Each year Mental Illness Awareness week focuses on a specific theme, and the theme for 2022 is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. In doing so, the health and wellness of our society as a whole can be substantially improved. Mental Illness Awareness week runs from October 2nd through October 6th this year. Several important days during this week include the following:
Tuesday, October 4th – National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
Thursday, October 6th – National Depression Screening Day
Monday, October 10 – World Mental Health Day
Everyone has mental health. It’s the way we feel inside, good or bad, to include our emotions, feelings, mood and more. While the emphasis of health is usually placed on the physical, mental health has an incredible impact on what we are able to do, ranging from our ability to socialize, go to work, provide for others, and take care of ourselves. It allows us to participate in and contribute to society. Similarly, our mental health can be impacted by countless things. Our work situation, home life, physical health, friends and family, financial state, even our genetics and the way we were raised, or an event that happened many years ago can play a role in determining the state of our mental health. Good mental health supports the way we work, learn, grow and interact with others. When our mental health is good, we are more resilient to the inevitable stresses of life. Even in times of good mental health come moments of sadness, despair, and struggle. These moments are a normal part of life and can even teach us how to overcome things in the future. However, sometimes these situations are too much for us to tackle on our own, and the impact they have on our mental health requires support. No one is too strong or too brave to be immune from these life events. It is better to reach out sooner rather than later when you feel like sadness, despair or negativity are consuming your days and preventing you from living your life so that you can work to restore your mental health.
Anyone, from any age group, race, gender, background or belief system can suffer from mental illness. Sometimes it can be challenging to differentiate between a bad day or a tough month from a mental illness, as there is no official test that can definitively tell us what is happening. Whatever you are feeling though is valid and could ultimately lead to more serious mental health consequences. Your thoughts and feelings should be acknowledged and supported and evaluated by a professional. Varying degrees of mental illness will require varying levels of support and treatment. Consider if you have noticed any of the following signs or symptoms listed below. This list is not comprehensive but does address many of the signs and symptoms that occur for some of the major mental illnesses. If you experience any of these things regularly or consistently, or notice a loved one or friend who may be experiencing them, reach out to a professional.
– Excessive worrying or fear
– Feeling excessively sad or low
– Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
– Extreme mood changes
– Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
– Avoiding friends and social activities
– Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
– Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
– Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
– Changes in sex drive
– Difficulty perceiving reality
– Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack
of insight” or anosognosia)
– Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
– Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach
aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
– Thinking about suicide
– Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
– An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
The impact that mental health and mental illness have on our society is huge. Consistently, research shows that individuals with mental illness have a shorter lifespan.1 in every 20 adults experience serious mental illness every year, yet only two thirds of those individuals receive treatment. Some of the major mental illnesses that individuals are struggling with in order of prevalence are anxiety disorders, major depressive episodes, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia. As millions of individuals across the globe are directly impacted by a mental illness of their own, just as many are indirectly impacted as they witness a loved one, a friend, a coworker or a neighbor struggling with a mental illness. The impact of mental illness goes beyond the individual it is affecting to interfere with the lives of many around them. Therefore, it cannot be on the individuals alone who struggle with mental illness directly to support and treat themselves. Our communities must band together to support those who need awareness raised and treatments provided.
The stigma that mental illness is a weakness or can be overcome by mental toughness leads to many individuals trying to keep their struggles quiet, ignoring their feelings, or resisting help, which only makes things much worse. Like any physical ailment or chronic illness, mental health must be addressed and treated in order to make recovery possible. This is only one of the many stigmas surrounding mental health. Others include societal stigmas such as viewing individuals with mental illness as violent, dangerous or crazy. Self-stigma, or the beliefs held by individuals with mental illness, can lead to lack of reporting or seeking out treatment out of shame or due to fear of society’s response. In order to decrease societal and self-stigma surrounding mental illness, we must normalize the reality of mental illness and continue to have conversations about it. Increasing discussions and public awareness, as well as making support more accessible to everyone, is crucial in order to increase mental illness reporting and mental illness treatment.
You can help to decrease stigma and raise awareness in your own community! Show your support this year by talking to friends, family members and coworkers about Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day. Post about it on your social media, advocate for improving treatment access for mental illness, and continue to educate yourself on the topics of mental health. Together, we can better support our community!
Image 1 – https://sdgresources.relx.com/special-issues/world-mental-health-day-2021-0
Image 2 – https://www.siouxcenterhealth.org/latest-news-and-blog/tag/mental-illness-awareness-week/
American Psychiatric Association – https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/stigma-and-discrimination
National Alliance on Mental Illness – https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/mental-illness-awareness-week
Rethink Mental Illness – https://www.rethink.org/get-involved/awareness-days-and-events/world-mental-health-day/
Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/world-mental-health-day
Home health care refers to a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. This health care option is often less costly, more convenient, and just as effective and high in quality as care you receive in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). Home health care is one of the most valuable services for those who have Medicare benefits.
Skilled home health services may include:
In general, the goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care can help you:
If you receive Medicare benefits through a Medicare health plan, check with your plan to determine how it gives your Medicare-covered home health benefits.
If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy or another form of health insurance coverage, tell your doctor or other health care provider so your bills can get paid correctly.
Doctors and referring health care providers should provide you with a list of agencies that service your area if they determine that you need home health care. They must tell you whether their organization has a financial interest in any agency listed.
Doctor’s orders are required to start home health care. After your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you questions about your health.
The home health agency staff will also talk to your doctor about your care and keep them updated about your progress. Home health staff must see you as often as your doctor has ordered.
Services your home health staff should provide include:
Allay Home and Hospice is a leading provider of home health and hospice services throughout Southeast Wisconsin. Fill out our online form today to learn more about our many home health care services.
We all grieve differently, but one thing remains true for everyone: the importance of taking care of yourself. Whether you’ve found yourself in a state of just going through the motions or you’ve put all your focus on taking care of your loved ones, it can be easy to put your own needs on the back burner when facing the loss of a loved one.
However, it’s absolutely imperative that you take time to focus on yourself, too. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are discussing the importance of self-care throughout the grieving process.
Mental Health Awareness Month dates all the way back to 1949 when the National Association for Mental Health (now known as Mental Health America) first organized the observance in the month of May to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma attached to mental illness.
For a long time, society looked at mental illness as being just one thing. There was always a negative stigma attached to the term, and people often thought of those living with a mental illness as having ‘gone mad’. However, that is simply not true. Over time, we’ve learned more about the many layers and types of mental illness.
Mental illness is the term used to describe mental health conditions that impact a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Common mental illnesses include:
Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience. You may feel as though you lost a part of yourself and that your life will never be the same. While there is some truth to this, it’s important to remember that you are still here and must go on living your life.
“We don’t move on from grief. We move forward with it.”
Feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common throughout the grieving process. However, these feelings can sometimes develop into chronic grief which can in turn become a mental illness. In some cases, grief can lead to depression.
Symptoms of chronic grief can include:
Self-care used to be thought of as bubble baths and pampering yourself, but there is much more to self-care. Just like the grieving process, self-care can look different for everyone. But the overall concept is to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
To take care of yourself physically is pretty simple: eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and practice healthy hygiene habits. However, taking care of yourself mentally is a little less cut and dry. This is where it really differs from person to person. To take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, you need to take time to do the things that make you feel good and happy. Hobbies are a good place to start when focusing on taking care of yourself mentally. Maybe you enjoy sitting outside and reading a good book, maybe you are an artist, maybe you enjoy taking long walks with your dog. Whatever it is that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled, do it!
Research shows the more you practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive you are. This also leads to experiencing more joy, making better decisions, building stronger relationships, and communicating more effectively. Overall, you will be in a better frame of mind, making you a better version of yourself. This is not only good for you, but it’s also good for those who depend on you.
When you take time to take care of your whole self (physically, mentally, and emotionally), it will help you to process your feelings of grief in a healthier way.
Always remember that you do not have to face the journey of grief alone. Lean on friends and family to help you through. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Sometimes we feel the need to be strong for those around us. If this is the case and you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside the family, lean on the support of your hospice bereavement team. Our kind, compassionate bereavement coordinators are always available to talk or just listen. Never hesitate to reach out.
If you or someone you love is struggling with their feelings of grief and would like to talk to one of our bereavement coordinators, please contact us at (262) 787-2980.