Hospice patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia find it more difficult to communicate with providers and caregivers than the patients with terminal cancer for which hospice care was originally conceived.
However, this difference does not appear to affect the overall quality of their care, according to a new study. This is important because the proportion of hospice patients with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia has been increasing.
Researchers found the majority of quality-of-care measures for individuals receiving hospice care differed little between patients with and without dementia.
Nonetheless, hospice patients with dementia were 2.6 times more likely to receive tube feeding than other hospice patients, despite findings that tube feeding is not associated with longer survival, better nutrition, fewer pressure ulcers, or reduced risk of aspiration pneumonia in individuals with advanced dementia.
More details are in Albrecht et al. (2013). Quality of hospice care for individuals with dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61(7), 1060-1064.