How To Care For Loved Ones With Dementia
Do you have a loved one with dementia?
If so, you might be wondering what you can do to provide the best care possible for them.
Each stage of dementia comes with different symptoms and therefore patients will have different needs as they progress through from early dementia where symptoms are mild, to late dementia where the symptoms are more severe.
Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
How Centric Healthcare Can Help
Caring for a loved one with Dementia becomes increasingly difficult as the months and years pass. Caregivers can become overwhelmed, even in the earlier stages, because so many tasks must be performed. You dont have to take the journey alone. Centric Health Care can provide you with a wide variety of services that will keep your loved one happy, healthy, and engaged.
Getting help and guidance soon after diagnosis is essential. Our staff will conduct an initial evaluation of your loved ones situation and recommend the frequency for a trained private home nurse along with other tailored services that your loved one will need. Because needs change quickly, we also schedule periodic evaluations to make sure that all care requirements are continuously met.
Additionally, we have staff who specialize in providing care specifically for dementia patients. Our specialized care includes:
Walking and transferring assistance
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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.
What You Can Do For Your Loved One
As an individual with dementia declines, you can help them by providing a loving and supportive presence. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Play music they enjoy.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one is helping to get their affairs in order. Ensure that financial and healthcare powers of attorney are put in place, so you can make decisions when your loved one is no longer able. Look into funeral arrangements before you need them, so you dont need to make important decisions in a time of crisis.
Talk to your loved ones physician about the possibility of palliative care support in the home and hospice care when your loved one is ready.
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What Should Be Your Role As A Caregiver In The End
During the final stage of dementia, the affected individual becomes completely dependent on the people around them to carry out basic activities.
If a person is a caregiver, they need to take care of the patient regarding certain important aspects, including:
The appetite of the affected individual may decrease in the final stages of dementia due to the inability to stay physically active. They may forget to eat food or drink fluids.
To help ensure that the person in the final stage of dementia receives adequate nutrition, try the following tips:
Bowel and bladder function
The patient may eventually lose control of bladder and bowel function in the final stage of dementia.
To maintain bowel and bladder function, try the following tips:
Skin and bone health
A patient with end-stage Alzheimers disease can eventually become bedridden or chair-bound. This can result in skin breakdown, pressure sores, and freezing of joints .
To keep the skin healthy and bones functioning, try the following tips:
Good oral hygiene reduces the risk of bacteria in the mouth that can lead to infections, including pneumonia. Brush the patients teeth every time after the patient eats. If the patient wears dentures, remove them and clean them every night.
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
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.
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Difficulty Concentrating And Planning
Another common symptom of those suffering late-stage dementia is a difficulty concentrating . For example, your loved one may find it difficult to complete simple activities such as getting the mail or brushing ones teeth. Additionally, late-stage dementia patients may find it near impossible to plan ahead, and may find in challenging to recognize where they are in time.
How Can I Tell If A Person At End Of Life Has Delirium
For someone in the later stages of dementia, delirium can be hard to spot. This is because the symptoms of delirium can be very similar to those of dementia. However, the key difference is that the symptoms of dementia tend to come on slowly, over months and years. Delirium comes on in hours and minutes and can vary a lot over the day.
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Caregiving During The Late Stages
As patients continue to lose both cognitive and functional abilities in the later stages of dementia, they inevitably become less active. Because they are less active, they require less food and might not have an appetite or might simply forget to eat.
As a caregiver, it is important to make sure the patient is eating healthy and nourishing foods. If necessary, adapt foods to make it easier for the patient to swallow and digest.
Caregivers should also continue to provide comfort, love, support, and companionship as necessary.
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.
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Request A Hospice Evaluation
The patients neurologist or personal physician may recommend hospice when the time is right. But as anyone who has faced a serious illness knows, patients and family members often must act as their own advocates to receive the care they need and deserve.
You, your loved one or your trusted physician may request an evaluation to see if hospice care for dementia is an appropriate option for care. Call 844.831.0028 to see how hospice can help.
What Can Help Someone Through The End Stage Of Dementia
Although this is a difficult diagnosis for a family to face, there are concrete actions to take when you or your loved one is facing decline.
Offer Touch and Human Contact
Human contact and touch are the most basic of human needs and in the end-stages of dementia, these interactions can be extremely beneficial.
Offering a hand to hold or even the caress of an arm or cheek can bring untold comfort.
There are scientific studies that have shown that touch can lessen both physical discomfort as well as emotional pain.
For example, this Stanford University study about touch found that touch reduces physical and emotional pain Interpersonal touch and social support can influence physical health, mental well-being and pain.
Provide Physical Comfort and Care
Making the decision to use caregivers outside of the family, and the decision to use a facilitys care comes with a host of benefits.
The benefits of a senior care facility include:
Medical supervision of acute and chronic health symptoms
Care team coordination
Try to Meet Spiritual and Cultural Needs
At Senior Services America communities, our team members strive to understand your loved ones wishes in reference to:
Pain management and comfort care
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Signs Of Dying In The Elderly With Dementia
Dementia is a general term for a chronic or persistent decline in mental processes including memory loss, impaired reasoning, and personality changes. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases of dementia. It is also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease and most progressive dementias do not have a cure. While the disease inevitably worsens over time, that timeline can vary greatly from one patient to the next.
Caring for a loved one can be challenging and stressful, as the individuals personality changes and cognitive function declines. They may even stop recognizing their nearest and dearest friends and relatives. As dementia progresses, the individual will require more and more care. As a family caregiver, its important to be able to recognize the signs of dying in elderly with dementia. Hospice can help by offering care wherever the individual resides, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to the patient and support their family.
Ways To Minimize Discomfort
There are things you can do for your loved one at this time. Spend time with them. Talk to them. Hold their hand. Play music. Show them pictures.
There are also medications that can help with the signs we shared above.
But were not going to get into the specifics here. We think its enough to know that there are things that can help.
What, specifically, will work for your loved one depends on your loved one. Their specific symptoms. Their illnesses. Where theyre staying. Whos taking care of them. And more.
No website can give you a good plan for that. All we can do is suggest you reach out to others to help come up with the best plan for your loved one.
Doctors. Nurses. Physical Therapists. Dietitians. Other caregivers. The Alzheimers Association. Palliative care providers. Other employees at the memory care facility.
And, when the final stage is near, reach out to hospice. Hospice is an incredible resource for both the patient and family members.
The late stages are an extremely difficult time for all involved. Just remember you are not alone. There are resources available to help you and your loved one through it.
What Are Specific Care Needs At Each Stage
An individual may not require care assistance after the initial diagnosis of dementia, but that will change as the disease progresses and symptoms become worse. There are about 16 million unpaid caregivers of people with dementia in the United States. While many caregivers are providing daily help for family members, they also hire someone to help. There are many options of care assistance, such as in-home care, adult day care, and nursing home care. There is also financial assistance available.
Early Stage DementiaAs mentioned above, in the early stage of dementia a person can function rather independently and requires little care assistance. Simple reminders of appointments and names of people may be needed. Caregivers can also assist with coping strategies to help loved ones remain as independent as possible, such as writing out a daily to-do list and a schedule for taking medications. Safety should always be considered, and if any tasks cannot be performed safely alone, supervision and assistance should be provided. During this period of dementia, its a good idea for caregivers and loved ones to discuss the future. For example, a long-term care plan should be made and financial and legal matters put in place.
Why Do Dementia Patients Stop Talking
There are many signs that can tell you death is near for a dementia payment. Even though you may be prepared for the end, it is never easy. The ten signs that death is near include:
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Caring For Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Please be aware – this information is for healthcare professionals. We also have information for the public.
You can use our My Learning form to reflect on how this page has helped with your continuing professional development.
People with dementia may experience problems with thinking, memory, behaviour and mobility. It can be difficult to recognise when someone with dementia is nearing the end of their life. You can support the person by communicating with them and helping them with any symptoms they have. If possible, its a good idea to plan the persons care in advance to help understand what they want from their care.
On this page:
There Are Things Worse Than Death
One last thing to leave you with here. And it may not be popular opinion. Or easy to hear. But something to consider.
It comes from a post on a message board from a nurse who has dealt with a number of end-of-life situations in her career. Heres what she had to say in a thread where a number of people were discussing end-of-life situations for their loved ones with dementia
There are a lot of things worse than death, folks! To me, living with dementia in a nursing home is one of them. I have told my family that they are to stop all medications except for comfort when/if I get to that point. I will not prolong my moms life once she has gotten to that stage. No medicine except for comfort. No feeding tubes. Hospice care only. It is hard to say goodbye to a parent but by the time their AD has progressed that far, you have already had to say goodbye. Im not trying to make anyone upset but am giving you another option. There is nothing wrong with letting go, letting God. Modern medicine can keep people alive a lot longer than they should. Something to think about.
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How Can Delirium Be Treated For A Person At End Of Life
Delirium can be distressing to the person and those around them. It is treated in different ways depending on the causes and the persons needs.
If delirium is being caused by something the medical team cannot treat, they may suggest reducing the persons distress using drugs that help them to stay calm and reduce their distress. These medications can help to give them a sense of peace at the end of their life.
Care In The Last Days Of Life With Dementia
We use the words dying or terminal to describe when a person is in the last few days or hours of life. Sometimes a death is sudden and unexpected. More often, though, a person shows signs that they are dying: it is important to recognise these and plan ahead. This section will help you to anticipate and manage symptoms, as well as provide some tips to help prepare family and loved ones through what is a highly emotional and uncertain time.
I dont want my mother to die alone. I want her to be comfortable and to die with dignity.
A daughter of a person with dementia.
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What Are The Main Types Of Dementia
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.
It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.
The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website .
Dying From Dementia Four Dangerous Signs You Shouldnt Miss
The realization that your loved one is dying from dementia is difficult to digest. People are clueless, and they cant wrap their heads around this crude reality. These are undoubtedly devastating moments, but there is no point lamenting over it forever.
Start by studying the true nature of dementia so you can spot the symptoms easily. Dementia is aprogressive brain disease characterized by degeneration of cells that result inthe gradual onset of disabilities. Theearly signs of dementia are vague and arent immediately visible. Also, thereis no timeline to tell us how the effectsof dementia overtake patients.
It varies from one patient to another according to the type of dementia they have and their age. People who suffer from Alzheimers experience difficulty retaining new information such as names, recent events or conversations. These patients also show signs of depression.
With the progression of the disease, they become disoriented, confused and unable to communicate effectively. Similarly, the ones suffering from Lewy body dementia and Frontotemporal dementia reveal a different symptom pattern.
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How Hospice Can Help With End
In addition to helping you in recognizing the signs of dying in the elderly with dementia, bringing in hospice care will help with the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. Nurses will be able to adjust medication and care plans as the individuals needs change. Aides can help with bathing, grooming, and other personal care. Social workers can help organize resources for the patient and family. Chaplains and bereavement specials can help the family with any emotional or spiritual needs. Additionally, family members can contact hospice at any time, and do not need to wait until it is recommended by the patient’s physician.
To learn more about the criteria for hospice eligibility or to schedule a consultation, please contact Crossroads using the blue Help Center bar on this page for more information on how we can help provide support to individuals with dementia and their families.