Palliative Care for People With Alzheimer’s Disease

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, people with the disease and their caregivers face many new challenges. Palliative care is a way to provide relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. It is focused on improving the quality of life for both the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of the disease and can be provided along with curative treatment. Keep reading to learn more.

Understanding the Roles of Palliative Care

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The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for the person who is ill and their loved ones. Palliative care can help people feel more comfortable and improve their ability to cope with their illness. It can also help to improve communication and decision-making among people who are affected by the illness. There are many different roles that palliative care can play in a person’s life. Some of the most common roles are listed below.

  1. Helping people make decisions about their care: Palliative care can help people to understand their illness and make decisions about their care, such as whether they want to be buried or use cremation services after passing.
  2. Providing relief from symptoms: Palliative care can help to relieve pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms caused by a serious illness.
  3. Supporting people through difficult times: Palliative care can provide emotional support to people who are dealing with a serious illness.

How Much Does Palliative Care Cost

In the United States, palliative care can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 per month, depending on the individual’s needs, but health insurance coverage for Alzheimer’s can sometimes lower this cost. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease typically require more intensive care, which can drive up the cost. Some health insurance plans do cover palliative care, but many do not. Medicare, for example, does not cover palliative care unless it is given in a hospital setting. If a person with Alzheimer’s needs palliative care in their home, they will likely have to pay out of pocket.

There are some programs available that can help offset the cost of palliative care. The Palliative Care Foundation, for example, offers grants to help people pay for palliative care. And some states have programs that offer financial assistance for people with terminal illnesses.
Despite the high cost, palliative care is often a less expensive option than hospice care. Hospice care is only available to people who are terminally ill and typically costs $5,000 to $7,000 per month.

The Challenges of Providing Palliative Care for Someone with Alzhiemer’s

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The challenges of providing palliative care for people with Alzheimer’s disease include managing difficult behaviors, addressing physical needs, and coordinating care among multiple providers:

  • People with Alzheimer’s often exhibit challenging behaviors such as agitation, aggression, and repetitive movements. It can be difficult to manage these behaviors effectively because they are often caused by the disease itself rather than by any intentional act on the part of the individual. Strategies that may be helpful in managing challenging behaviors include gentle touch, speaking softly and calmly, providing structure and routine, and using positive reinforcement.
  • Individuals with Alzheimer’s also have physical needs that must be addressed as their illness progresses. These needs may include assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Caregivers need to be prepared to handle a wide range of physical tasks depending on the stage of the disease.
  • Coordinating care for people with Alzheimer’s can be a challenge for caregivers due to the complexity of the illness. There may be multiple providers involved in a person’s care, including physicians, nurses, social workers, home health aides, and therapists.

Overall, palliative care is an important aspect of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite its high costs, it can provide relief from symptoms, improve quality of life, and offer help in overcoming challenges.