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Esther Heerema, MSW

Should You Choose Palliative Care or Hospice for a Loved One with Advanced Dementia?

By May 19, 2013

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As Alzheimer's and other dementias progress into the later stages, some people opt for additional support and care through home health care, a facility such as a nursing home, or hospice care. However, another less known choice also exists: palliative care.

Many people assume that palliative care is the same as hospice care, but that's not quite true. They're similar in that they both focus on the care and comfort of the person. Hospice care, however, includes the decision to opt out of aggressive care. It's appropriate for someone who, in the opinion of the physician, has less than six months to live and does not want invasive or potentially life-extending medical interventions such as a feeding tube or resuscitation.

Palliative care includes a strong emphasis on pain control and support. However, palliative care can be utilized throughout a serious disease process whether the goal is curative or comfort-related. Someone who chooses palliative care support can still receive aggressive care and treatment for a disease and, at  the same time, benefit from the additional support and comfort that palliative care offers.

For more on how palliative care can be a benefit for someone with dementia and when someone might be appropriate for palliative care, here's a link to the full article: Palliative Care: How Can It Help Someone with Dementia?

Related Information

How to Designate a Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions

Dementia and End-of-Life Decisions: Do Not Resusciate or Full Code?

What Are Living Wills and How Can They Benefit People with Dementia?

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