The elderly population of the developed world is growing, and in many nations, the percentage of citizens aged 65 and over is growing and may continue growing in coming decades. Today, nearly 47 million senior citizens live in the United States in particular, and this figure may grow as Baby Boomers age and Generation Xers later become 65 and over in the coming decades. Meanwhile, Japan leads the world in life expectancy, and that nation has a very high percentage of elderly citizens. In fact, projections show that by 2040 or 2050, one in four Japanese will be aged 65 and over, and all of those elderly citizens will need care. The United States might not see quite such a sharp trend, but all the same, senior care services in the USA must be able to keep up. This ranges from home care assistance to dementia care such as for Alzheimer’s, and the emotionally taxing but important work of end of life care. What does end of life care entail, and how may a patient with Alzheimer’s life a dignified and comfortable life at home?
What to Know About End of Life Care
This is a fairly broad term, covering any healthcare and other assistance for a patient who has a terminal condition or illness, such as cancer or failing organs. This may be a distressing time for the patient’s family, but end of life care can make the patient’s remaining time more comfortable, dignified, and pain-free to the best possible extent. End of life care may vary in its specifics as the patients do, and it may describe care during the patient’s last few hours or days, or more broadly, their last few years. A patient may receive a diagnosis for a terminal condition that will not end their life until years later, but even in this large time frame, end of life care may be relevant.
If the patient is in a hospital, end of life care may also involve logistical work on the staff’s part, such as allocation of resources and national medical systems, along with matters of life support and “pulling the plug,” as it is often called. family members may assume responsibility for that and related decisions if the patient is unable to, but a conscious and lucid patient may be able to explain what they want done (or not) and why. These decisions may also be made at the patient’s own residence or a senior care center, if that is where they live. An elderly patient at their own home, who has been receiving in home assistance care, may decide ahead of time when and if certain medical actions may be taken, such as stopping a medication. If able, these patients will use their own discretion.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a common form of dementia, and it most often affects those aged 65 and over, and among them, mainly women. In fact, two in three Alzheimer’s patients are women, and most of them will be 65 and over. Only in rare cases does early-onset Alzheimer’s present in a patient, who will be under 65. This condition cannot be prevented or cured, and it is known for causing cognitive impairments that result in memory loss, not to mention physical clumsiness. But even if there is no cure, steps can be taken to limit Alzheimer’s impact on an elderly patient’s everyday life.
Mental stimulation such as a strong social life, and even mental exercise such as jigsaw puzzles, may slow down Alzheimer’s progress. This is a natural and medicine-free way to keep the patient amused and happy and slow down the disease’s progress. If the patient does not yet have need for extensive care, then moderate care may be provided with in home assistance. This means that the patient lives in their own home, and family and medical staff visit as needed. They may help with cooking, lawn care, shopping, preparing meals, caring for pets, or anything else required. The home can also be made more safe and convenient, such as removing tripping hazards and locking away sharp and flame-producing items. Items may be arranged neatly and logically, and kept in a consistent patter and placement to minimize memory loss’s impact.