Health care providers throughout the United States are making a concerted effort to improve hospice care and palliative treatment in terminally ill patients with Alzheimer's disease. Palliative care is treatment designed to relieve or reduce the intensity of uncomfortable symptoms without trying to cure the underlying disease.
Palliative treatment may involve the use of medicines or surgery to control symptoms such as pain, nausea, and shortness of breath. The primary care doctor will help guide the patient through the critical transition to hospice care by providing best estimates for the chance of recovery, identifying situations where palliative care may be best, and at times, giving permission for the patient or loved ones to agree to forgo treatment.
Alzheimer’s aggression most often flares up during the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The person may become easily agitated, angry, and abusive -- often for no apparent reason. The person may curse, hurl insults, and scream. Though verbal assaults are more common than physical assaults, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may throw things or resist care by pushing and hitting.
Once a patient agrees to make the transition from life-sustaining treatment to palliative care, a primary care doctor can provide symptom relief. A specialist with expertise in pain control also may assist the doctor.
Consult your doctor for more information about palliative treatment and hospice care.