Home Care In End-Stage Alzheimer's

You have probably heard of hospice care during the end stages of Alzheimer's disease, but you may not have considered how home care can also be helpful during this time. Utilizing a combination of both hospice and home care can be a great option.

My family began using a home health aide from a home care agency when my mom was still in the moderate stages of Alzheimer's.

As her disease progressed, we increased the number of hours and responsibilities of the home health aide. By the time my mom entered the end stages of the disease, our home health aide was practically a member of the family.

The beginning of the end

About 9 months before my mom passed, she was approved for hospice, and we began utilizing a hospice nurse. Hospice could also provide volunteers to assist with my mom's care, but they had limited availability.

They could only come for 2 hours at a time in either the morning or evening hours. Since we already had a home health aide for 8 hours a day, we didn't need to utilize the hospice volunteers.

Other than the nurse's monthly or biweekly visits, we didn't see our hospice team very much, so it was extremely helpful to have our home health aide.

Home care in the end stages of Alzheimer's

As my mom entered the final stage and began transitioning, our home health aide proved to be a great resource. Although my mom was just laying in bed all day, our home health aide took care of a lot.

She bathed her every morning, changed her whenever she went to the bathroom and changed the sheets on her hospital bed often.

She thickened my mom's drinks and fed my mom as much as she could on the days my mom was willing to eat. She also turned and repositioned my mom every couple of hours to prevent bedsores.

Her main focus became making sure my mom was comfortable and resting.

Always keeping busy and helping

When I would visit my mom, our home health aide would often do housework or laundry so that I could spend time alone with my mom. I would call out for her if I needed help, and she was there right away.

I was so grateful to have someone to handle the caregiving duties, so I could just focus on being my mom's daughter. It allowed me the time and space I felt I needed to say goodbye to my mom.

Other times, our home health aide stayed in the room for the entire visit. We would watch my mom resting peacefully and reminisce about what she had said or done. Since our aide had been with us for about 3 years already, she knew my mom well enough for us to talk about her.

I would tell her things about my mom from growing up and share stories about her from before she got sick. It was so healing to talk about her; in some ways, it helped prepare me for the final loss. We would also just sit and listen to my mom's favorite music or watch her favorite shows. It gave me a sense of normalcy in a difficult and heartbreaking time.

Being my mom's daughter

When your loved one reaches the end stages of Alzheimer's, it might seem pointless to have a home health aide because your loved one is likely sleeping most of the time.

However, having someone to assist with the daily caregiving duties can give you the time and opportunity to focus on just being a daughter, son, or spouse again. Although nothing can prepare you for your loved one's death, it may help if you have a chance to say goodbye.

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