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Hospice Care/Dieing & Alzheimers


My husband is in late alzheimers. He is now running a low temp and refusing food and water. dozes and talks(nothing makes sence)and I think we have entered the final stage, my children dont think so. I am a retired CNA and remember those last days as having slight fever and in and out dozing, disconnected and rambeling speach.Do you think I am right? I have Hospice scheuualed to come in this week. Thank you so much

My dear Marlene--

I think you are absolutely right, and I think you need not wait for next week to get hospice to your home.  I cannot imagine that the hospice admission person, if you described your husband as you did for me, would not have sent someone on the same day.

He sounds endstage to me.  Of course, with Alzheimer's and any dementia, making sense is not there, but do not assume he cannot perceive you or know you on some level.  I encourage the families of all the dying to continue to talk soothingly and gently.  It is as much for the family as for the patient.  Talk and touch are so reassuring, no matter what the problem may be.

But do call hospice first thing today--that would be my advice.  Hospice is appropriate six months out--in other words, when someone is six months from death by the best estimate of the physician caring for the person, and when there is no hope for cure, and when the patient no longer seeks cure.

I am sorry for your situation but glad to know you were a CNA.  You note you are "retired."  I'm not sure we ever stop giving care--we just do it for love.

Take care, and thank you for writing to me.


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Christine Johnson


I can give suggestions, encouragement and direction on what hospice is and is not, when it is appropriate, and how to go about getting it. I am familiar with Medicaid and Medicare hospice benefits. I can answer general questions about disease process, what dying looks like, how hospice handles pain and other symptoms, what to expect from a hospice when end of life nears. I can provide support, direction and encouragement related to spiritual matters and psychological matters related to death and dying.


I am a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, and have been the director of nurses for three hospice centers, under two different companies. I have also worked as a contract hospice nurse for a large American hospice company. On a personal level, my father died without benefit of hospice (it was not popular then). I have taken care of dying patients in hospitals and recognize that for most of us, it is preferable to die at home (or in our residence, wherever that may be), comfortably and without anxiety. Also I had no support when my father died; hospice clients are the whole family (however that is defined by the "patient"), and support is provided at least a year after the patient passes. These are the sorts of things (and probably others) that I can help with.

HPNA (Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association)

none yet

Registered Nurse (TX), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (TX) ADN Nursing, Excelsior College, Albany, New York (2004) 4.0 GPA BA, Psychology (minor Social Work), Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1986) 3.67 GPA MHR (MA) Human Relations, Oklahoma University, Norman, OK (1988) 3.5 GPA

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