At What Point Should I Be Discussing Palliative Care With A Professional If My Loved One Has Alzheimer's Disease?

Dr. Mohana Karlekar answers: 'When Should I Discuss Palliative Care?'

May 4, 2009 -- Question: At what point should I be discussing palliative care with a professional if my loved one has Alzheimer's disease?

Answer: Palliative care, in my opinion, should really be introduced earlier on, though the role at that time will be very small. And the purpose of involving palliative care right around the time of diagnosis is not to change your treatment plan, but to be able to support patients, support families on the changes of what they might expect.

If someone is told that over time their memory is going to get worse, they're going to have all these fears and all these concerns. So the role of the palliative care specialist at that time may be just helping to complete advance care directives. So though I think it's great to get a palliative care involvement early in the course of someone's disease, I think the role may be small. But getting them involved earlier, I think has great benefit to the patient and the family.