Part II: End Stage Dementia Caregiving

End Stage Dementia Caregiving

In the final stages of many terminal illnesses, care priorities tend to shift. Instead

of ongoing curative measures, the focus often changes to palliative care for the

relief of pain, symptoms, and emotional stress. Ensuring a person’s final months,

weeks or days are as good as they can be requires more than just a series of care

choices. Anticipating the demands of end-of-life caregiving can help ease the

journey from care and grief towards acceptance and healing.

In the final stages of life-limiting illness, it can become evident that in spite of the

best care, attention, and treatment, the person is approaching the end of life.

Their care continues, although the focus shifts to making them as comfortable as

possible. Depending on the nature of the illness and the circumstances, this final

stage may last from a matter of weeks or month to several years. During this time

palliative care measures can provide the patient with medications to control pain

as well as other symptoms such as constipation, nausea, or shortness of breath.

Even with years of experience, caregivers often find the last stages of life uniquely

challenging. Simple acts of daily care are often combined with complex end-oflife

decisions and painful feelings of bereavement. End-of-life caregiving requires

support, available from a variety of sources such as home health agents, assisted

living facilities, nursing home personnel, hospice providers, and palliative care


At this stage, people require continuous assistance with basic activities of daily

life. Speech has become so circumscribed, as to be limited to approximately a

half dozen intelligible words. Speech will continue to become even more limited,

to at most, a single intelligible word. Once speech is lost, the ability to ambulate

independently (without assistance), is invariably lost.

As dementia progresses, people will lose the ability not only to ambulate

independently, but also sit up independently. At this point in the evolution people

can even tip over when seated unless there are arm rests to hold them up in the


Subsequently people lose the ability to smile and lastly the ability to hold up their

head independently.


About Front Range Hospice- Legendary Care

Front Range Hospice is a center for excellence in providing end-of-life care and we continue to strive to keep our company achieving distinction. Visit us at
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