Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Supporting the Journey: The Critical Role of Palliative Care in Alzheimer’s Cases

Supporting the Journey: The Critical Role of Palliative Care in Alzheimer’s Cases

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Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that impacts millions of individuals globally. It doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed but also their loved ones, who must navigate the difficulties of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Palliative care plays a role in providing support and comfort to both patients and their families, improving their quality of life throughout the disease’s progression.

Understanding palliative care

Palliative care takes an inclusive approach to managing illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Any specialized Alzheimer’s palliative care aims to relieve symptoms, manage pain, offer support, and help with making decisions regarding treatment options.

Addressing physical and emotional symptoms

In cases of Alzheimer’s, palliative care focuses on easing not only the symptoms but also the emotional distress caused by the disease. Patients often face challenges like pain, sleep issues, and difficulties in daily tasks. The palliative care team works tirelessly to alleviate these symptoms using methods such as medication and therapy and by providing tools for mobility assistance.

Additionally, palliative care places emphasis on addressing issues such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness that often affect individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Comprehensive counselling services are offered not to patients but to family members who may feel overwhelmed by the emotional challenges of caregiving.

Patient-focused decision-making

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses and cognitive abilities decline, patients may lose their capacity to make decisions. In certain situations, an essential aspect of care involves ensuring patient-centered decision-making through tools like living wills or healthcare proxies. Palliative care teams collaborate with families to understand the patientstreatment preferences while prioritising their well-being.

The significance of communication

Clear communication plays a crucial role in palliative care for individuals with Alzheimer’s. It fosters understanding among patients, families, and healthcare providers. Palliative care specialists are adept at using communication strategies tailored to each patient’s needs and capabilities.

Adopting a person-centred care approach

Person-centered care serves as the foundation for providing care to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. This method focuses on offering care that respects the individuality of patients, honours their dignity and independence, and promotes their health and happiness.

Implementing a patient-centered care approach involves creating activities and therapies that aim to enhance engagement and encourage interactions. By identifying and leveraging the strengths and interests of individuals, healthcare professionals can improve their well-being.

Supporting family carers

Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease can be a task for family members. Palliative care acknowledges this aspect. Provides assistance to carers through various support services. These services may include options for respite care counselling sessions, educational programmes, support groups, and resources addressing caregiving challenges.

Collaboration between palliative care and other healthcare fields

Effective teamwork between palliative care experts and other healthcare practitioners involved in a patient’s treatment is vital in Alzheimer’s cases. Establishing communication channels facilitates treatment plans while enabling healthcare providers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s requirements.

Palliative care: a lifelong commitment

Palliative care offers assistance throughout the journey with Alzheimer’s disease, from diagnosis through every stage until end-of-life care. It prioritises comfort, enhances the quality of life, alleviates suffering, promotes understanding among all parties involved, and equips carers with the resources for success.

Preventing and managing complications

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, individuals may experience complications and coexisting conditions that require specialised care. Palliative care teams collaborate with other healthcare professionals to prevent and manage these complications effectively.

  • Treating coexisting conditions. Alzheimer’s disease often occurs alongside other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. The interdisciplinary nature of palliative care allows for a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s health, enabling the team to develop an individualised treatment plan that addresses all aspects of their well-being.
  • Managing behavioural symptoms. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may exhibit challenging behavioural symptoms, such as aggression, agitation, or wandering, which can be distressing for both patients and carers. Palliative care experts employ non-pharmacological interventions or recommend appropriate medications when necessary to manage these symptoms in a way that minimises the use of antipsychotic drugs.

Final thoughts

Dealing with Alzheimer’s disease poses difficulties for individuals and their families. In such situations, palliative care is crucial in easing symptoms, offering assistance, aiding in decision-making processes, applying personalised care approaches, and assisting family carers. Acknowledging the significance of care in Alzheimer’s scenarios can enhance the general welfare and quality of life for patients and their loved ones throughout this demanding experience.

Samantha Green, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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