Archive: March 26, 2022

HospiceWits’ interdisciplinary team and palliative care

HospiceWits takes an interdisciplinary approach to palliative care for people with life-limiting illness, incorporating various experts in this field to ensure that the patients in our care receive holistic treatment that isn’t only limited to meeting their medical needs.

Our team is made up of a number of expert medical caregivers, who all work in unison to provide top-quality care to our patients and to their families.

When you opt for palliative care from HospiceWits, these are the people that you or your loved one will have access to.

General practitioners or physicians

As you might expect, medical doctors will be in charge of the medical care of the patient who is receiving palliative care from HospiceWits. A GP or physician will communicate with the rest of the care team regarding the patient’s medical condition, and will convey this information to the loved ones and relatives of the patient. Physicians will make treatment recommendations and assess the side effects and benefits of particular treatments, as well as explaining what outcome is likely if no treatment regime is followed. Doctors make decisions with regards to tests, the prescription of medication, and other relevant forms of treatment.

Nurses

The relatives of a patient that is receiving palliative care from HospiceWits are likely to regularly communicate with the nurses tasked with their loved one’s care. HospiceWits nurses administer the medical care a patient needs according to the recommendations made by the GP or physician, in addition to offering direct care to the patient. Nurses often serve in a supervisory role to nursing assistants and other members of the care team.

Nursing assistants

As the name suggests, nursing assistants help in the nursing care of the patient – this includes monitoring a patient’s vital signs and regularly checking their blood pressure, temperature and pulse, and then relaying this information to primary healthcare workers.

Social workers and counsellors

Psychosocial care is a primary pillar of the service HospiceWits provides, and a social worker and counsellors are indispensable to patients and to their families in this regard. In order to relieve the mental distress that many patients and their loved ones experience, these mental health experts employ a variety of techniques and counselling methods.

Therapists

Depending on the care a patient needs, specialised therapists such as occupational therapists or physiotherapists are sometimes a part of the care team.

Volunteers

HospiceWits is grateful to the many volunteers that offer their time in service of the patients in our care. Volunteers assist HospiceWits in a myriad of ways, including offering companionship to the patient, running errands for the patient and their family, and assisting the primary care team in terms of direct patient care.

Each member of the HospiceWits interdisciplinary team is essential in providing the exemplary service that this organisation has become known for over the years. To learn more about how to access palliative care services from HospiceWits, click here.

Dementia: These are the early signs to look out for

One of the conditions affecting patients who receive palliative care from HospiceWits is dementia. This catchall term describes a number of conditions, both progressive and terminal, which include Alzheimer’s disease (this is the most common form of dementia), frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Korsakoff syndrome and/or a combination of these conditions.

While many people consider dementia a normal part of aging, it is important to mention that this group of conditions do not form a part of the normal cognitive decline that older people experience, as it is a disease of the brain that affects cognitive functioning and decline in short-term memory, and often causes irreversible loss of neurons.

It is important to recognise the early signs and symptoms of dementia, not only because these might present far earlier than one might expect, but also because an early diagnosis of dementia ensures that a patient can plan for the future and receive the medical and non-medical interventions that may reduce the speed of the progression of the disease.

Keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms. Should you notice them in yourself or in a loved one, make it a priority to speak to a medical professional about what the treatment path should be going forward.

Early signs of dementia, versus normal cognitive decline in older individuals

Even if dementia is often considered a normal part of growing old, there are significant differences between signs of dementia, and normal signs of aging.

For example, age-related changes might lead a person to make a bad decision once every often, whilst dementia symptoms include regular poor judgement and decision-making. As people grow older, they might forget to pay a bill once in a blue moon, but the total inability to manage a budget if one was once able to do so might be a sign of cognitive decline related to dementia.

Similarly, forgetting the day or date (and then perhaps remembering it later) is quite normal for older people – people who are in the early stages of dementia will often lose track of the date or season without recalling the fact later.

Sometimes forgetting a word is normal for most people, regardless of their age, while people with dementia will struggle to have a proper conversation or follow a conversation with other people or on the TV or radio, often confusing words and the structure of a sentence. Even if we all sometimes misplace objects, people who are starting to show signs of dementia will do this very regularly, and will exhibit an inability to retrace their steps in order to find said objects.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • Forgetting the names of close friends or everyday objects.
  • Feeling confused (even in places a person is familiar with) or getting lost on journeys that are familiar to a person.
  • Pronounced changes in mood or behaviour.
  • Noticing that other people notice or comment on a person’s memory loss.

How to prevent the onset of dementia

While dementia often has a strong genetic link (in other words, if a close relative has the disease, there is a chance that there may be a family history which affects a person’s susceptibility to also being diagnosed with it in their life), there are certain lifestyle changes that may reduce someone’s chances of getting dementia. Following a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can be beneficial, as can regular exercise and keeping the blood pressure at a healthy level. Cutting down on drinking alcohol and quitting smoking is also always advisable.

Should you require assistance with a loved one who requires palliative care due to dementia, please contact HospiceWits. Our interdisciplinary team takes a holistic approach to palliative care, which can be of great support to a dementia patient and their relatives.