Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias take an enormous emotional and financial toll on patients, families and caregivers. Alzheimer’s and dementia are progressive, terminal diagnoses. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is the third leading cause of death in the state of Washington. Other medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease can also lead to dementia. Dementia causes memory loss that over time, results in mental, social and functional decline. We can make a difference for our families by seeking support and accessing available resources early on to promote quality of life, end-of-life care and peaceful dying. Visit our health library to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Currently in our state, 26 percent of those with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia have hospice care. Palliative care and hospice offer patients and families a measure of self-determination at a time when life can feel very much out of control. These services are especially valuable for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, focusing on easing symptoms, anxiety and discomfort. Care can be provided by Franciscan Hospice and Palliative Care in the home, a nursing home or other care facility.
Talk with your loved ones early and often to let them know your wishes in the case of life-limiting illness. It is important to have these conversations with your doctor, too, while you are able. Your doctor can help you put the paperwork in place to ensure your wishes will be honored when the time comes. It is agonizing for families to wonder if they did all they could or should for their loved one. Advanced planning is a gift of peace you can give your family at a most difficult time. Please see our fact sheet and decisions booklet for information and resources to get started.