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Hospice Care and Alzheimer's Disease

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.

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I didn't know anything about Alzheimer's before my mother and my stepfather developed it at roughly the same time in the spring of 2005. I was living outside of Portland, Oregon; they were living in Mission, Texas. They were 86 and 84, respectively. I had tried to talk them into moving to an assisted-living community in Portland previously, but they always said they were doing fine. So I was surprised when my mother called one morning out of the blue and said, "We need help." My husband and...

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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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 12, 2014

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