Medical Interventions In Late
If someone is in the later stages of dementia and becomes seriously ill, there may be discussion about whether to actively treat their illness. Ways of intervening may include resuscitation after a heart attack, antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, or giving food or liquids by mouth.
Giving or withholding treatment is a serious decision to make for someone else and is not an easy one to make. You need to consider:
Sometimes the decision can only be made by a guardian appointed by a tribunal or court. Each state and territory has different regulations but medical staff or Dementia Australia can advise you about appropriate contacts.
Common Complications Of Alzheimers Disease That Cause Death
A lack of self-awareness and self-care, prolonged confinement to a bed, feeding failure, inability to receive proper nutrition and dehydration are all factors in the development of other life-threatening health conditions in dementia patients. While brain damage associated with AD is the driving force behind the patients cognitive decline and incapacitation, these secondary illnesses and conditions are ultimately responsible for causing the patients physical decline and death.
Complications of Alzheimers disease are commonly cited as such on death certificates. Because of this, deaths with a primary cause of AD and related dementias are seriously underreported. This is especially true since dementia can go unnoticed as it progresses slowly over the course of many years. Furthermore, a significant number of patients never receive an official neurological diagnosis while alive or after they have died.
Outlook For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia will usually get worse over time. This can happen in sudden steps, with periods in between where the symptoms do not change much, but it’s difficult to predict when this will happen.
Although treatment can help, vascular dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
But this is highly variable, and many people live for several years with the condition, or die from some other cause.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you’re not alone. The NHS and social services, as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.
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How Can I Support Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Knowing the person will make it easier to provide person-centred care that is focused on what they need and want. It can help to know about their likes, dislikes and their wishes for how they want to be cared for. If the person isnt able to tell you about themselves, speak to their family, friends or other people who know them well.
Its a good idea to find out if the person has a copy of This is me , a document that records information about themselves. If you cant speak to the person, ask those close to them if they have a copy. They may have these details recorded in their care plan.
There are many ways to support someone with dementia at the end of life.
Are There Any Treatments For Dementia
At this time there is no treatment for dementia. There is only medical care that can help manage symptoms and support people through their gradual decline.
The options for proper medical care with the diagnosis often include specialty caregivers, individual and family support groups, healthy diet and exercise, and frequent check-ins with your doctor.
Depending on which stage of dementia you or your loved one is in, the level of care required will vary. Someone in the earlier stages might need little to no care if symptoms are mild and not affecting daily life.
On the other hand, someone in the final stages of dementia will most certainly require 24/7 caregiving and constant supervision. If they dont have the proper care they need to avoid a risk factor such as choking or falling, it could lead to death.
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When Do Dementia Patients Stop Eating
When a patient stops or refuses to eat, things can be very depressing for the caregiver. Drinking and eating are complex and have to do with a control center that is within the brain, which controls the muscles in the throat and neck area.
Dementia affects this part of the brain as it progresses and things like choking, coughing, grimacing as one swallows, clearing the throat, movements that are exaggerated, especially of the tongue and mouth, refusing to swallow, and spitting the food can be seen. This usually happens in the later stages of the disease.
What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End
When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.
When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.
Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.
Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:
- Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
- Limited speech or no speech at all
- Double incontinence
- Difficulties swallowing and eating
It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.
Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:
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Support Family And Loved Ones
It is vital that the persons family and loved ones are aware that the person may be in the last few days or hours of life. Share information in a gentle and sensitive manner, drawing on those staff who have the strongest relationships with the person and their family. Giving family members space to explore their feelings and concerns is a critical part of good end-of-life care.
Often, family and loved ones want to be present when the person dies. They should know that changes can happen suddenly and the person may die, for example, when they have just popped out of the room to use the bathroom.
Sometimes, family members may not want to be present at the death. Family and relatives should never feel that they should stay, but always give them the opportunity to stay and to be involved in care as they wish.
How Do You Die From Dementia
Even though immediate death from dementia or Alzheimers is unlikely, dementia-related diseases often contribute to other factors that can lead to death. Like dementia itself, these factors are usually progressive and develop slowly over time. And though theres no cure for dementia, there are ways to care for a loved one with these conditions so they can live as long and pain-free as possible.
Alzheimers is a specific form of dementia, so How do you die from dementia? and How do you die from Alzheimers? are closely related. Heres how Dementia can contribute to a loved one passing.
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Different Types Of Dementia
Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia in the United States. Its also the leading cause of death among dementia patients. The National Institute on Aging claims Alzheimers is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans as a whole.
Alzheimers is characterized by a decline in cognitive function in elderly people. The onset can be between the ages of 30-60 years old, on average. It results from a loss in the connection between neurons in the brain. Symptoms include memory loss, strange behavior, and language complications.
In anatomy, vascular has to do with the blood vessels. The term applies to anything that carries blood or oxygen through the body. Therefore, Vascular dementia is one of a blockage or lack of blood or oxygen to the brain.
If an aging person experiences a lack of blood flow for whatever reason, it can contribute to loss of brain function, resulting in dementia. A person with vascular dementia loses their normal thinking capacity and struggles with memory, disorientation, and physical numbness.
This type of dementia is the second most common type of dementia, but it is often left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Because its so misdiagnosed, it coincides with the other most common among dementia disorders with another type, called Lewy Body dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia
Withdrawing From The World
For many people, the process of withdrawal from the world is a gradual one and this natural process can appear to be accompanied by feelings of calmness and tranquillity. People may spend more and more time asleep, and when they are awake they often seem drowsy. They may show less interest in what is going on around them. This does not mean they care about you any less.
Ways to help:
There are some things you can do to bring the person comfort:
- Simply spend time with them
- Touch their arm or hold their hand
- Speak to them, even if they dont respond, so they can hear the tone and sound of your voice
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What Goes On Medically
Medically, what goes on depends on which of the three possibilities obtains.
Suppose that the Alzheimerâs patient passes from a secondary condition. Then the medical cause of death will depend on the particulars of that condition. So, suppose that an immobile Alzheimerâs patient develops a blood clot in his or her calf. Doctors will try to treat the clot by using blood thinners. But, if the clot breaks loose a person can die any or three ways. Firstly, the clot could block an artery. This may happen any number of places, but it is most dangerous around the lungs. Called a âpulmonary embolism,â a blood clot near the lungs can cut off oxygen to the body and brain. Secondly, the clot could cause the person to go into cardiac arrest. If the clot passages into the heart, the heartâs pumping may become erratic and fatal arrhythmias may develop. Thirdly, the clot could go towards the brain, block an artery there, and cause a fatal stroke.
If a person develops pneumonia, then the main risk is that of infection. Pneumonia is characterized by a personâs having âfluid-filledâ sacs in the lungs. In the first place, the fluid impedes the lungâs ability to pass oxygen into the blood stream. But the fluid is also a breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria can make its way into the blood, travel around to other organs, and cause a massive, whole-body infection that a person is unlikely to recover from.
Recognising When Someone Is Reaching The End Of Their Life
Read about some of the signs that a person with dementia is nearing their death, and how you can support yourself as a carer, friend or relative.
It is important to know when a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life because it can help in giving them the right care. However it can be difficult to know when this time is.
This uncertainty can have a big impact on how the persons family feel, and may also affect how they feel themselves.
There are symptoms in the later stages of dementia that can suggest the person is reaching the final stage of their illness. These include:
- speech limited to single words or phrases that may not make sense,
- needing help with most everyday activities,
- eating less and having difficulties swallowing,
- bowel and bladder incontinence,
- being unable to walk or stand, problems sitting up and controlling the head, and becoming bed-bound.
It is likely that a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life if they have these symptoms, along with other problems such as frailty, infections that keep coming back, and pressure ulcers .
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What Else Are The Experts Saying
The recent research shows that the mortality rate for dementia, which was the second leading cause of death for the previous four years, has more than doubled since 2010. This has led to urgent calls for increased research and advances in treatments. Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia. Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”
Martina Kane, of the Alzheimer’s Society, also highlighted the need for increased services.
“It is essential that people have access to the right support and services to help them live well with dementia and that research into better care, treatments and eventually a cure remain high on the agenda.”
For more information about the signs and symptoms of dementia, visit our fact page. If you are concerned about dementia, visit your GP.
How Dementia Causes Death
A person in the late stage of dementia is at risk for many medical complications, like a urinary tract infection and pneumonia . They’re at an even higher risk of certain conditions because they’re unable to move.
Trouble swallowing, eating, and drinking leads to weight loss, dehydration, and malnutrition. This further increases their risk of infection.
In the end, most people with late-stage dementia die of a medical complication related to their underlying dementia.
For example, a person may die from an infection like aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia usually happens because of swallowing problems.
A person may also die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedbound and not mobile.
It’s important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness. This means that dementia itself can lead to death. Sometimes this is appropriately listed as the cause of death on a death certificate.
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What Does Best Practice Look Like Introducing The Priorities For Care Of The Dying Person
There are five priorities:
- Recognise: The possibility that a person may die within the next few days or hours is recognised and communicated clearly, decisions made and actions taken in accordance with the persons needs and wishes, and these are regularly reviewed and decisions revised accordingly. Always consider reversible causes, for example, infection, dehydration, hypercalcaemia.
- Communicate: Sensitive communication takes place between staff and the dying person, and those identified as important to them.
- Involve: The dying person, and those identified as important to them, are involved in decisions about treatment and care to the extent that the dying person wants.
- Support: The needs of families and others identified as important to the dying person are actively explored, respected and met as far as possible.
- Plan & Do: An individual plan of care, which includes food and drink, symptom control and psychological, social and spiritual support, is agreed, coordinated and delivered with compassion.
How Do People Get Dementia
The exact cause of dementia is unknown, and there may very well be no particular thing to blame. Many complicated factors come into play when it comes to diagnosing dementia, as well as any cognitive issue in the brain.
Aside from the different types of dementia and their above-mentioned possible causes, personal health also plays a major role in brain decline. If no known injury or defect is detected, an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to the development of dementia during older age.
Dementia Now Leading Cause Of Death
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, latest figures reveal.
Last year, more than 61,000 people died of dementia – 11.6% of all recorded deaths.
The Office for National Statistics says the change is largely due to an ageing population.
People are living for longer and deaths from some other causes, including heart disease, have gone down.
Also, doctors have got better at diagnosing dementia and the condition is now given more weight on death certificates.
The bulk of the dementia deaths seen were among women – 41,283, compared to 20,403 dementia deaths in men in 2015.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, accounted for 15.2% of all female deaths, up from 13.4% in 2014.
For men, however, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in 2015.
All types of cancer as a group was still the most common cause of death overall.
In the youngest age group, aged five to 19, suicide was the leading cause of death.
Among women aged 35 to 49, breast cancer was the biggest killer.
Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.
“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”