The concept of Palliative Care and treatments provided to patients with end stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are the same as for those patients who have end stage cancer.
Patients at the end stage of dementia and Alzheimer’ s disease often have cancer as a secondary diagnosis. The concern is that these people cannot communicate orally or that they have pain.
The Alzheimer’s Association Ethics Advisory Panel concluded at a meeting on June 19, 2000, that Alzheimer’s disease in its advanced stage can be defined as a terminal illness. Such features as the inability to recognize loved ones, inability to communicate, ambulate or maintain bowel and bladder control are common in end stage dementia.
Placing residents with advanced Alzheimer's on Palliative Care, family members can better appreciate what is entailed, given the surgeries and medical treatments that would otherwise extend the dying process. Pain medications, however, can be administered to increase comfort care. Evaluating the level of pain for each individual requires continuous clinical assessments.
Horticultural Therapy interventions in palliative care increase patients’ sense of belonging, fosters positive memories and provides an outlet for socially acceptable behaviors. The dying process is continued with dignity and caring. Horticultural therapy allows patients to care for plants while enjoying life, even at the end.
Horticultural Therapy is an effective intervention in Palliative Care involving the search for meaning, confronting fears, dealing with the loss of control, and issues of loss. Therapeutic horticulture reduces boredom, fosters a sense of accomplishment and enhances psycho-social supports within the patient’s community.
Horticultural Therapy addresses the dying patient’s negative feelings; threats to self esteem and helps restore a sense of control, contributing to an improved quality of life. Palliative Care is an approach to treatment includes control of pain and other symptoms while simultaneously addressing the patient’s psychological, social, and spiritual concerns, in an effort to provide the best possible quality of life.