For many years now, I have had the pleasure of working with Candis Armour, R.N., executive director for our Solari Hospice Care operations in Las Vegas. This month, I’ve invited Candis to share a guest blog with you on Alzheimer’s Disease. I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Candis – and all of the dedicated members of our Solari staff – who continue to educate the public about Alzheimer’s and provide compassionate care to the many patients and caregivers affected by it.
By Candis Armour, R.N.
Do you have purple clothing in your closet? If so, I hope you will join me and thousands of others worldwide in wearing your purple on Friday, Sept. 21, in honor of World Alzheimer’s Day. This special day is a time that’s been set aside to raise the public consciousness about Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia and currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Every day at Solari Hospice Care, I see patients and their caregivers struggling to manage the ravages of this disease. Often I hear, “We didn’t know that hospice was an option” or “I wish we’d heard about hospice sooner.”
During the last six months of life, Alzheimer’s patients usually become bedridden, uncommunicative and may get skin sores, suffer from weight loss or develop infections. In addition to Alzheimer’s, many patients have secondary health issues, such as cardiac problems or diabetes, that compound care. Hospice can provide pain management and address patients’ multiple medical issues. It also allows people to die peacefully and with dignity.
However, I think what’s equally important for people to know is that hospice can relieve some of the caregivers’ burdens. At the disease progresses and intensifies, caregivers can become physically and mentally exhausted. They don’t know where to turn or how to get help.
At Solari, our multidisciplinary team can arrange for special adaptive equipment or services to make caring for the patient easier. Volunteers can sit with patients when caregivers need to take a short break or run an errand. Solari has contracts with local facilities that provide respite care, if needed. And, if pain or symptoms become too severe to medically manage at home, Solari offers a freestanding 12-bed inpatient center with 24-hour acute care.
We also address the caregivers’ emotional concerns and the grieving that goes along with seeing a loved one slowly succumb to this disease. Our free bereavement services – including spiritual support and counseling – are available to caregivers throughout the patient’s illness and for 13 months after death.
Like other illnesses, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies cover the cost of hospice care for most Alzheimer’s disease patients, so there are usually no out-of-pocket costs.
Alzheimer’s is such a devastating disease. No one should face it alone. I strongly encourage caregivers dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s patients to consider hospice care. Solari is always here to provide information and answer questions.