For Those Living with Alzheimer’s Dementia, Hospice Timing is Everything

By Seasons | November 02, 2020

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month- a time to de-stigmatize this disease and work to support those suffering from its effects.


When is the right time for hospice support? How will you and your staff know when to request a hospice evaluation? Our short video on prognostic indicators is a great place to start.



  • Individual is a “7” or higher on the Functional Assessment STaging scale (FAST)
  • Speech has been reduced to 1-5 words daily, communication is sparse and unintelligible
  • Weight loss has been noted, often 10% in the past six months
  • Patient or resident has had one or more infections in the past six months- commonly UTI or Pneumonia
  • Cannot perform any of the following unassisted; walk, bathe or dress

These are critical changes that signify the advancement of disease progression. Ultimately, hospice eligibility is determined by two physicians agreeing the patient has six months or less to live if their disease runs its normal course.

Benefits to you and the patient with a timely hospice referral

Think of a resident or patient you shutterstock_1755829772currently have that has always been the apple of the staff’s eye. She moved in because she has Alzheimer’s Dementia and was no longer able to live at home alone. Maybe his family lives out of state and he started forgetting appointments. She smiles often, repeats a few phrases, and enjoys shuffling through the halls in her wheelchair or looking at old pictures. He is a proud veteran and has always been easy to care for. We know you take excellent care of your resident, so let’s explore how the addition of hospice care can help further support an eligible individual.

  • 24/7 Availability- Having hospice in place will help to eliminate futile hospital admissions / Emergency Department visits. Instead, hospice staff brings care directly to the individual as new challenges surface. The team is available 24/7 to meet needs.
  • Proactive vs. Reactive Care- hospice provides better management of symptoms; nurses are trained to carefully note non-verbal signs of pain, agitation and depression and work to be proactive using their expertise to see issues before they arise.
  • Family Support- Education offered by the hospice staff to families that may be wondering, “why there are so many changes?” and likely have many questions for you or your staff, often daily. Hospice staff members have the time to provide the additional information, literature, and emotional support required as their family member continues to change and decline.
  • Quality of Life- Hospice personnel bring into focus a strong sensory link- allowing the benefit of a music therapist to create another window of connection. The hospice aide may use Namaste care, providing special scents that may calm a patient or resident, conjuring more positive thoughts while being bathed or changed.
  • Leaving a Legacy- Hospice social workers often help create a “legacy project,” unique and special to each individual. This gives family closure as they capture a special part of their loved one, forever.
  • Home Sweet Home- Keeps residents in safe in place through the end of their life.

All of this adds up to a better quality of life for those you care for. In addition, hospice involvement eases the staff burden of care and leaves the survivors feeling satisfied with the care their loved one received through the end of their life.

Whether a resident is newer to your building, or you have had a several-year relationship with an individual, finding the best care options can provide peace of mind as you help to navigate this important stage of life. Refer to the Seasons Hospice Prognostic Indicator Guide or download the Seasons Hospice Referral App, aimed at providing YOU the tools you need, at your fingertips 24/7. We look forward to partnering to provide an exceptional end of life experience.

Earn 1 hour of Continuing Education for RNs and SWs by taking our on-demand course: ‘Care of the Patient with Dementia’

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