When your loved one is diagnosed with a debilitating disorder such as Alzheimer’s Disease, it can mean years of watching them decline in both their mental capacity and their physical health. Many people don’t realize that you can die from Alzheimer’s — it is considered a terminal disease. And at some point, your mother or father may require hospice care.
Jacob and Herman
Several months ago, I received an email from Jacob. His father Herman had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. That’s when he granted Jacob medical and financial power of attorney. At the time he was in the early stages and could still make decisions for himself. Then in the past several months, Jacob, and the round-the-clock in-home caregivers he had hired to look after his father, noticed he was slowing slipping away from them. Recently, he received a call from one of the caregivers was concerned that Herman was not only losing touch with reality but needed extra assistance when walking, was incontinent and didn’t seem to notice it, could no longer feed himself and was not cognizant of being hungry or thirsty. Jacob was confident that Herman didn’t even know who he was any longer. His father’s physician had discussed hospice with him, but Jacob wasn’t so sure about hospice.
I asked what his specific concerns were as many times families have incorrect information about the hospice process. Jacob stated that his father didn’t like change and had difficulty adjusting to new people. Some days he even forgot who his caregiver was. He also mentioned that his father wasn’t that sick yet—at least not in his estimation.
I’m not a physician, so I was in no position to argue the point. However, I did explain to Jacob that doctors don’t just randomly prescribe hospice. They have to believe that the patient is within six months of dying, and that all medical treatments for their disease have been exhausted or that they have opted out of them. I reminded him that he just told me that Herman was having difficulty remembering to eat or hydrate.
My other goal was to make Jacob aware of the many benefits that hospice offers families.
“Hospice is for the entire family unit, Jacob. It not only provides comfort to the patient but gives the family a spiritual and emotional outlet. You see, a hospice team typically includes a member of the clergy as well as a social worker and bereavement counselor, besides the medical personnel. You can use these services up to a year even after your father has passed. It’s something to think about. For your own peace of mind, call your dad’s physician again and make an appointment to speak with him further about hospice care for your father. As I mentioned earlier, he has to be the one to make the referral to a hospice agency.”
Before he hung up, Jacob asked, “Okay, but who foots the bill for hospice?”
I explained that there is a Hospice Medicare Benefit that would cover it as long as certain circumstances were met. I suggested he go onto the Medicare website or contact them about these requirements.
He thanked me for the information and said he felt better prepared to speak with the doctor again, now that he understood the hospice process a little better. He was also relieved to hear that Medicare might help with the cost.
Why Choose Luxe Hospice?
I hope I hear back from Jacob or Herman’s physician. I’m confident our interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals would could benefit both Herman and his family. Luxe offers terminally ill patients and their families in the Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Santa Monica, Brentwood and Bel Air areas:
- 24/7 care
- Patient evaluation by physicians and nurses who are trained in pain and symptom control.
- Personal care hospice aides and homemakers who help with any nonmedical care such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, dressing or bathing, etc.
- Social workers to help the family access community resources
- A dietician to make sure the meals are palatable and nutritious
- Chaplains, who offer comfort and spiritual guidance to the family
- Bereavement support
- Trained hospice volunteers who can run errands, sit with the patient or family members and help in other ways volunteers who can run errands, sit with the patient or family members and help in other ways
We view the hospice experience as a family journey and understand that people who are going through a loss, in any form, need a safety net. The Luxe Hospice team provides a dignified environment for their loved one and resources for the family, allowing them to begin the healing process.