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How Do You Know When Death Is Near With Dementia

Excessive Fatigue And Sleep

The DYING Process in Dementia: How to know that death is close

Your loved one may start to increase the number of hours they sleep and not wake fully when they are awake. As death nears, the persons metabolism slows contributing to fatigue and an increased need for sleep. The increase in sleep and loss of appetite seem to go hand in hand. A decrease in eating and drinking creates dehydration which may contribute to these symptoms.

Weeks Before End Of Life

Some of the earliest signs have to do with a sense of resignation. That may involve low mood, lack of motivation, and withdrawal. The person may spend more time reminiscing about their childhood and earlier life experiences.

Loss of appetite, general weakness, and increasing fatigue become noticeable.

Signs Of Death In Elderly With Dementia: End Stage

Dementia is a term used to describe the persistent or chronic decline in ones mental processes and this include personality changes, impaired reasoning, and memory loss. The most common form is Alzheimers disease and it accounts for over 70 percent of all the dementia cases.

It is one of the greatest causes of death in the United States with over five million people living with the disease in the country alone. One of the age groups affected by dementia is the seniors. If you are a caregiver, it is important to know the signs of death in elderly with dementia.

Most progressive dementias and Alzheimers disease do not have any cure. The diseases get worse with the passage of time, but the timeline can be very different from one person to the next.

Caring for persons with the diseases can be stressful and very challenging, especially when their personality begins to change and their cognitive function starts to decline. It is possible that the individual will not even recognize the people who are closest and dearest to them.

As the disease progresses, the person needs more and more support from the caregiver and the family. If the person is elderly, the caregiver needs to know about all the signs that the patient may be dying.

You may need to put the patient on hospice so as that he or she can get the appropriate care during such moments. This offers the family and the patient spiritual, physical, and emotional care.


Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

Hours Before Death Symptoms

During the last 24 hours of your loved ones life, much of your loved ones time will be spent sleeping. While awake, they will have difficulty interacting with you because many of their senses may be failing. However, their hearing should remain, and may be the only way they can experience the world. You can use a normal speaking voice when talking to them. Many of the physical changes they have experienced for the past few months will become more pronounced.

  • A sudden burst of energy that slowly fades
  • Their skin becomes increasingly mottled and blotchy, especially on the hands, feet and knees.
  • Further drop in blood pressure
  • Inability to swallow
  • Increased congestion, including possible fluid secretions

Check Their Advance Care Plan

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You should find out if the person has an advance care plan. This document may record their preferences about the care theyd like to receive, including what they want to happen, what they dont want to happen and who they want to speak on their behalf. It may include an advance statement or an advance decision. We have information on planning ahead;for patients and their families, which you might find useful.

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Becoming Sleepy And Other Changes That May Occur

A person close to death will become increasingly sleepy. Most people will slip into unconsciousness and die peacefully and quietly in their sleep. Occasionally some people may become more agitated as death approaches. If this is the case, healthcare professionals will talk to you and, having ensured pain and other symptoms are controlled with appropriate medication, will administer some sedation. This may be given at first by an injection and at regular intervals if required, depending upon how the person responds to it.

The persons skin can become pale and moist and slightly cool prior to death. You may also see changes in the colour of peoples hands, finger nails, feet, toes and toe nails, as the body becomes less able to circulate blood.

Things Your Doctor Wont Tell You About Dying

Learn what science has discovered so far about what happens when we die.

Death is a subject many people do not like to discuss, but its a part of life that we will all have to face. Sometimes the more you know about a certain subject, the less frightening it becomes. Here are 10 things you may not know about dying.

1. Dying is often a process. There are numerous causes of death, many of which are instant. For people who know death is approaching whether from sickness or old age there are certain signs.;These signs include slowed breathing, weakened heart rate, and a change in color, says Zachary Palace, MD, medical director of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York.

In general, in the time leading up to death, usually the person will become pale because of a drop in blood pressure, he says. The fingers may get cold or turn blue. If you feel the pulse, it will be weak, and then they start to develop an irregular type of breathing, and thats a sign that things are pretty ominous.

2. When breathing slows, death is likely near. Dr. Palace explains that there may be gaps in between breaths where it looks like the person stopped breathing for 15 to 20 seconds. He says families often worry at this point, but he assures them that its a normal part of the dying process.

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Dying From Dementia With Late

The death of your loved one can be a hard concept to wrap your head around and accept. But knowing what to expect can help you when your loved one has late-stage dementia. It might help to know what will happen in the future so that you can be prepared emotionally and logistically.

This article discusses how dementia progresses and what to expect during late-stage dementia.

When To Say Good

The Dying Process in DEMENTIA – PART 2: How to know that death is close (lived experience)

One of the hardest decisions is when to call in people to say good-bye and to make memories for the future.

Let family members and close friends know as soon as it’s obvious that death is near. The care team can help you all prepare for what’s coming, both what will happen to your loved one and your own physical and emotional reactions. Being together allows family members to support each other, too.

Even though you’ve gathered, don’t assume it means you’ll be there at the end. Often the person doesn’t die until those who sat with them for hours have left, as if they were unable to let go while the ones they loved were there.

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Read Next: The Alzheimers Advice I Would Give My Past Self

The blisters didnt heal, and then an old bruise on her leg opened up and started bleeding and crusting over. It was due to poor blood circulation, made worse by the fact that she was having trouble eating and her protein intake was too low, exacerbating the fluid build-up in the blisters. And then she stopped being able to swallow her medicine; no antibiotics to help heal the wounds on her heels and legs, no paracetamol to ease the discomfort, not even a relaxant to help her sleep at night.

I didnt know it then, but we finally encountered the real killer with Alzheimersforgetting how to swallow.

In late March I found her still sitting at the dining table two hours after the meal, staring at her bowl of fruit. The nurses said she had become a slow eater. I realized at that point that the suddenness of my mothers spiral had even surprised the staff. They didnt realize the blisters were from bedsores, thinking her shoes were too tight; they didnt help her to eat, thinking she was taking her time. It was the disease, slowly shriveling the part of her brain that takes care of the physical processes and basic functions.

One day she just stopped eating and drinking completely. Not only does Alzheimers make you forget how to swallow, but it also attacks the part of the brain that sends thirst and hunger pangs. And thats when I understood what would kill hershe would slowly wither away, dry up, unable and unwilling to eat or drink.

Special Prerequisites Of Palliative Care In Advanced Dementia

Originally, palliative care emerged in the UK for cancer patients in response to insufficient care for the terminally ill. Eventually conditions other than cancer were acknowledged as being in need of palliative care. Independent of specific diagnosis palliative care should be provided for people with life-threatening disease and their families âthrough the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritualâ to maintain or improve quality of life . Parallel to the development of palliative care dementia care developed separately; both based on the same values for enhancing care of people with dementia and improving quality of life . Notably lessons learned from palliative care for people with cancer cannot simply be transferred to palliative care for people with dementia.

As dementia progresses people experience reduced or lost verbal communication abilities with a consequent impact on care. Despite restrictions in verbal communication people with advanced dementia can use other means of nonverbal communication such as body tension or minimal movements, turning their head away, frequency of breath and paralinguistic signals are all means of communication to express their current wishes or needs . Agreement or rejection reactions in a situation can be observed, although interpretation of nonverbal communication varies between health professionals .

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End Stage Dementia Care: What You Need To Know

It can be traumatic to watch a loved one with dementia nearing the end of their life. But knowing what to expect in the end stage of dementia may bring you some comfort. Find out what might happen

On average, a person diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, for example, could live for another 10-12 years, and many of those years can be made happy and enjoyable. However, none of us are immortal and no matter how well you care for a person with dementia or how much you love them, at some point their dementia journey will reach its end.

As difficult as this may be to accept, many people do find the final stage of the illness easier to handle if they are prepared and can do their best to ensure the person they care for experiences a peaceful and dignified death.

Provide Physical Comfort And Care

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Assess the person to ensure they are not in discomfort or restless, and offer the kind of care described in the above section . Reduce any interventions to only what is necessary, for example change the persons position every few hours or when they need changing.

Give regular mouth care. This can be done hourly to prevent the persons mouth from becoming dry. Apply Vaseline to keep lips moist.

Give eye care, for example use a soft piece of wet clean gauze to prevent the persons eyes from looking sticky.

Also Check: How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

Mental And Behavioral Changes

As a person accepts their mortality and realizes that death is approaching, they may begin to withdraw. They are beginning the process of separating from the world and the people in it.

Your loved one may decline visits from friends, neighbors, and even family members. When they do accept visitors, it may be hard for them to interact and for you to care for them in the moment.

This is a time when a person begins to think about their life and revisit old memories. In evaluating their life, they may be sorting through any regrets.

Can You Die From Dementia

Dementia is usually considered a disorder affecting memory and is associated with aging. In the initial stages, this could be true. Loss of memory is one of the earliest signs of the disease.

However, according to experts, dementia is a fatal brain failure that needs to be taken seriously like other terminal diseases that kill a patient slowly. It is not just an ailment that is associated with the elderly.

Even though the distinction is not really known in the medical field and to the general public, it is something that needs to be considered when one has to be treated at the very end stage of the condition.

It is believed that the fact that people are misinformed and misguided about dementia, the end stage treatment is usually made very aggressive.

The disease progresses quite slowly and the fact that it affects so many people means that it should be taken seriously. Dementia is a collection or a consequence of different diseases like Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinsons disease. In later stages, you can tell the type of dementia that is affecting a certain patient.

The patient can have eating problems, pneumonia, fever, pain, and difficulty breathing, which are all caused by the failure of the brain. In the end, dementia involves so many other parts of the body.

It is important to appreciate that the brain is the engine of our bodies. It controls everything, including metabolism, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, and even the heart.

Also Check: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s

The Seven Stages Of Dementia

One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.

Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.

Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment

Signs of Approaching Death

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:

  • Getting lost easily
  • Noticeably poor performance at work
  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
  • Losing or misplacing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating

Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.

Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

When To Say Goodbye To Your Dying Cat

So how do you know when its time to say goodbye to your dying cat? Choosing to let your furry friend go is one of the hardest decisions in pet ownership, especially when you are unaware of the signs to look for.

To help you make the most informed decision for your cat, we will get into the signs of when you know its time to say goodbye.

  • No longer eating
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea that wont resolve
  • Extremely weak or always sleeping
  • No longer getting up to use the litterbox
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • No longer responding to supplementary veterinary care

If your cat is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be their way of telling you they are ready to let go.

Euthanizing your cat can be the kindest thing you can do for them at this point, as they may only continue to suffer as the time passes. If you are ever unsure of what is best for your feline friend, your veterinarian can offer the guidance you need.

Saying goodbye to our feline companions is hard, but it can be the purest form of love when they begin to suffer. Be sure to review the information we discussed above on the signs of a dying cat, and you can better understand your senior cat going forward.

Or Does It Make Sense To Tell Them At All

My moms best friends husband died recently. My mom had known him for more than 60 years, but I debated whether to tell her. Shes had dementia since the fall of 2012 and retains almost no new information.

We call her friend often and my mom asks after her husbandan old memory the disease hasnt stolen from her.; I decided she should know.

I sat down next to my mom in the memory care unit where she lives and said, We need to call your friend. You know her husband was not well for some time. He died yesterday. My mom was shocked and readily accepted my offer to call her friend on my phone.

When they hung up, my mom and I talked about how good her friend sounded. We sat quietly for a few moments and then my mom said to me, Did you talk to her? How did she sound?

The experience made me wonder if I made the right choice to tell her.

When they hung up, my mom and I talked about how good her friend sounded. We sat quietly for a few moments and then my mom said to me, Did you talk to her? How did she sound? She had forgotten that she spoke with her friend, but she remembered that her husband had died.

The experience made me wonder if I made the right choice to tell her and what I should do if she forgets in the future. For guidance, I turned to Stephanie Rohlfs-Young, director of volunteer programs at the Alzheimers Association. The following is an excerpt of our conversation, edited for clarity and length.

MemoryWell: How should you approach it and what should you say?

Also Check: How Does Dementia Kill You


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