Hospice Care For Dementia Sufferers: What You Need To Know

Making the decision that a terminally ill loved one needs hospice care is difficult enough, but it can become even more difficult when that loved one has dementia. Dementia sufferers are often unable to communicate their wishes regarding the situation, which then leaves it up to the family to make this difficult choice. Dementia is considered a terminal illness, and that means end-stage dementia sufferers are good candidates for hospice care when they are believed to have six months of life left. There are many advantages to hospice care for dementia sufferers that you should be aware of. 

Pain Management

Many health experts believe that pain management in end-stage dementia patients is underutilized in hospitals and nursing homes. This could be a result of the fact that many people with dementia cannot communicate the fact that they are in pain with words. This leaves it up to hospital and nursing home staff to have to look for external signs of pain, which may be non-existent. 

Since hospice care is care that focuses on keeping patients comfortable in their last months, the staff members are trained to manage the pain of patients more effectively. This can lead to a more comfortable end-of-life experience for your loved one with dementia, whether he or she is able to vocalize comfort or not. 


Many nursing homes are chronically understaffed, and that can lead to each long-term care patient receiving little attention throughout the day. This attention includes cleaning, toileting, and many other types of daily care. This often leaves little time left to spend any more personal attention with a patient than absolutely necessary. 

When hospice workers visit your loved one, they have much more time to devote to him or her one-on-one. Even though your loved one may not be able to hold long conversations or communicate in ways that he or she once could, it does not mean that your loved one does not communicate other ways. 

Hospice workers can read books and play games with dementia sufferers. They can also just sit and hold their hands during times when the family is away working and tackling other important tasks. 

Leaving Uncomfortable Procedures Behind

Before you decide to obtain hospice care for your loved one, he or she may be come down with illnesses that requires uncomfortable treatments. In end-stage dementia sufferers, these treatments only provide temporary relief of illness at the cost of patient comfort. 

If a dementia sufferer begins to have trouble swallowing, then he or she may also be hooked up to intrusive and uncomfortable feeding tubes. While these treatments may be good choices in otherwise healthy people, someone with advanced dementia may benefit from leaving these intrusive, uncomfortable procedures behind and passing with dignity. 

Family Support

Hospice care is not only beneficial to your loved one, but to you and your family as well. Hospice care centers provide counseling for family members through every step of the process. They can help you decide if it is the right time to put your loved one under hospice care and help you and your family cope after making the difficult decision. 

Many hospice centers also offer grief counseling services for your family after your loved one passes away. It can be a great comfort to not only have counseling after the passing of your loved one, but to also have it with the staff that took part in caring for your loved one in his or her final days. 

Making the decision to place your loved one with dementia under hospice care is a difficult one. While he or she may not be able to speak to tell you exactly what decision to make, you should trust your instincts and the advice of healthcare providers when tackling this tough decision. Click here for additional info.