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How to Prepare for End-of-Life Care for a Loved One with Dementia

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can create numerous challenges for devoted caregivers and their families. Because the future can be unpredictable and dementia progresses at different rates for each person, dementia care authorities advise that it is important to begin planning early for end-of-life care.

End-of-Life Planning: Emotionally Difficult, But Important for Your Loved One

Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, ADC, Wellness Coordinator/Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA, says, “Although end-of-life care for a loved one with dementia is a highly emotional topic and one of the most difficult tasks caregivers face, it is nonetheless very important to consider and prepare for. 

“When a loved one nears the end of their life, they will be unable to make critical decisions for themselves or express their personal preferences. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you begin planning for their end-of-life care while they are still capable of participating in the process. End-of-life decisions to be made may include ensuring that your loved one’s wishes are carried out, that they are kept as comfortable as possible and that their dignity is respected.”

Essential Steps for Planning End-of-Life Dementia Care

To help guide your preparations for end-of-life care for your loved one, the Alzheimer’s Association® brochure, “End-of-Life Decisions,” and the National Institute on Aging article, End-of-Life Care for People with Dementia,” offer several useful pointers that can make this difficult job more manageable. For example:

  • Understand and Implement Your Loved One’s Expressed Wishes – It is best to discuss your loved one’s end-of-life preferences early while they are still able to express themselves clearly. You can use legal assistance (e.g., an elder care attorney) to articulate their wishes in an advance directives document, which specifies their desires for end-of-life care and comfort. This document typically includes a living will and healthcare Power of Attorney.
  • Consider Life-Sustaining Treatments – Your loved one’s advance directives should also specify their wishes regarding the use, withdrawal or refusal of various life-sustaining treatments such as feeding tubes, respirators and surgery.
  • Discuss Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders – Another end-of-life decision that should be carefully addressed is the option not to resuscitate the person. If your loved one living with dementia does not want to have CPR or advanced cardiac life support administered at the end-of-life stage, you can request that their doctor sign a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) form, which is a legal order to prevent any attempts at reviving them.
  • Evaluate Care Options – When your loved one has reached the stage where they require intensive around-the-clock care and supervision, it may be time to consider a licensed memory care community that focuses exclusively on the needs of persons with dementia. Here you will find the latest dementia care services and activities provided by specially trained caregivers, as well life-enriching amenities, nutritious meals and pleasant surroundings in a family-friendly setting.

    Impressions Memory Care also offers respite care services, which provide busy caregivers with some much-needed time off, while their loved ones receive compassionate care in a safe, professional setting.

  • Plan for End-of-Life Hospice Care – Leading memory care communities such as Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr offer personalized care and services for every phase of dementia. This includes hospice care to maintain your loved one’s dignity and comfort at the end of life.

    Hospice care team members work collaboratively to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care for the loved one with dementia as well as their family. Because comfort is the primary goal, end-of-life specialists advise that if someone with dementia is already in a memory care community, they may want to stay there for their hospice care. Remaining in their familiar surroundings can make them more comfortable than having to go to the hospital unless it is deemed necessary.

Preparations for end-of-life care for a loved one with dementia are always hard – mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We hope that these useful pointers by end-of-life experts can make your task a bit less daunting.

Also, we invite you to read our timely articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on preparing for a loved one’s end-of-life care, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at 484.380.5404 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.