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How to Handle End of Life Care for Seniors with Dementia

How to Handle End of Life Care for Seniors with Dementia

How to Handle End of Life Care for Seniors with Dementia

Dementia is a progressive brain condition, meaning symptoms gradually worsen over the years. Plus, considering a cure is currently unavailable, dementia will progress and eventually lead to death. Seniors and their loved ones should discuss how to handle the former’s end-of-life care.

Dementia Symptoms and Life Expectancy

Seniors with dementia can live for years with their condition. People with Alzheimer’s disease can live for 8 to 10 years, depending on their age at the time of diagnosis. A 5-year life expectancy is given to vascular dementia patients, and 6 to those with Lewy body dementia.

No two dementia patients experience the same rate of disease progression since dementia symptoms vary widely. However, certain common symptoms are present in seniors with dementia. In the final six months, for instance, the senior may visit the hospital more frequently.

In the dementia patient’s last 2 to 3 months, speech becomes limited to a few words per day. Eating becomes problematic due to difficulty chewing food or choking on liquids. Incontinence occurs, and the senior cannot walk without assistance from a caregiver.

As soon as a dementia diagnosis is given, make plans for the future. Ideally, the dementia patient will express their wishes to family, a care team, or a legal professional while they are still capable. Prepare an advanced directive, which includes a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.

If the senior had not prepared advanced directives, caregivers must make decisions on their behalf. Caregivers may have to make difficult choices about care and treatments, because the dementia patient who loses cognitive functioning will be unable to communicate their wishes about healthcare.

1. Make Treatment Decisions
Treatment decisions that caregivers will have to make include choosing whether or not to provide medications. Certain drugs can briefly delay the progression of dementia symptoms. Behavioral symptoms can be controlled to an extent in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

However, some caregivers may not wish to give their elderly care recipients medications when the side effects outweigh the benefits. This may especially be the case during the later stages of dementia. Caregivers should weigh the pros and cons and ultimately prioritize the senior’s comfort.

Caregivers should understand how the recommended medical treatment options fit with the life of the family and dementia patient. Some caregivers struggle managing dementia care at home; in such instances, hiring memory care from a home care agency can lend significant support.

Hospice care, too, is an invaluable source of comfort and support to both the dementia patient and the family. Designed to ease pain and suffering near the end of life, hospice care can be provided at home by hospice workers who are experienced in providing care to dementia patients.

2. Provide Emotional Support
Even though dementia robs a senior of the ability to communicate verbally, the individual still has the ability to connect with the people and places around them. Caregivers can promote emotional comfort by making sensory connections via the senior’s hearing, sight, or touch.

Near the end of life, dementia patients may respond well to a massage or listening to soothing music. Caregivers who simply sit by the senior relax them and decrease their agitation. In addition to being present, caregivers may find it helpful to provide the senior with spiritual support.

3. Be Aware of End-of-Life Signs
Experienced hospice teams have a good understanding of end-of-life symptoms. While they have an awareness of timing, it is difficult to predict exactly how much time the dementia patient has left. However, they can usually identify when a senior is in the last days or weeks of life.

Since dementia patients struggle with communicating, especially near the end of life, caregivers should observe the senior for signs of pain or discomfort. Telltale signs include grimacing, yelling, moaning, sweating, or the inability to sleep. At this stage, hospice or palliative care is recommended.

Trouble eating and swallowing develop near the end of life. Feeding tubes or IV drips may be medically advised to meet nutritional needs. However, the dementia patient could feel distressed by the devices and remove them, risking infection and pain. Instead, comfort the senior with mouth care.

End-of-life care for dementia patients requires a team. Nurses adjust medications and care plans, and home care professionals assist with bathing, grooming, and toileting. Social workers coordinate care resources, and bereavement counselors support the family with emotional or spiritual needs.

Caregivers can help seniors develop funerary plans ahead of time—an empowering process. Advanced planning reduces the stress and uncertainty thrust upon family members during a difficult time. Consider burial versus cremation and a family burial location or other meaningful final resting place.

Memory Care Downers Grove Illinois

Family caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the demands of care as the dementia progresses. When feeling taxed by caregiving, turn to the quality memory care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care. Our professional caregivers are trained and experienced in delivering reliable dementia care.

We provide memory care to seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia. Care responsibilities include assisting with personal hygiene tasks, giving timely medication reminders, eliminating fall risks in wandering seniors, and providing mobility support as the senior moves around.

Dementia caregivers also take care of meal preparation. We ensure the senior receives nutrients while adhering to their dietary restrictions. Social health is promoted, too. Caregivers serve as friendly companions, taking the time to play games, go on safe outings, and enjoy pleasant conversations.

Receiving memory care from Assisting Hands Home Care elevates the quality of life for dementia patients. Since compassionate care is provided at home, the elderly individual has the opportunity to remain in a familiar setting and feel secure. Aging in place is preferred by the majority of older adults.

If your elderly loved one expresses a desire to receive dementia care at home, choose Assisting Hands Home Care. We continue to be trusted by numerous seniors and their families in Burr Ridge, IL | Lyons, IL | Indian Head Park, IL McCook, IL | Hodgkins, IL | Countryside, IL | Willow Springs, IL | Palisades, IL | La Grange Highlands, IL | Clarendon Hills, IL | Brookfield, IL | Western Springs, IL | Hinsdale, IL | Darien, IL | La Grange, IL | Downers Grove, IL | Oak Brook, IL | Willowbrook, IL and the surrounding areas. Call us today at (630) 407-1932 to schedule an in-home consultation.