After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, patients live from eight to twenty years before reaching the end stage of the disease.
When someone you know is dying, you are faced with considering the meaning and impermanence of life. It may be beneficial to talk with someone whose view of life and death is similar to your own, to help you explore your feelings and concerns.
The end of life requires special care, particularly because the dementia patient can no longer give you verbal or nonverbal feedback about how they feel. A person close to death may experience certain symptoms pain, difficulty breathing, lack of interest in eating or drinking, or pressure sores.
In the last stages, the person cannot even respond to sensory input, so you really will not know if something makes them feel comfortable or uncomfortable.
The best way to care for a person who is unable to give you feedback is to:
• Trust your instincts. You have been close to the patient and known the patient for a long time, and often will just know what to do.
• Seek advice and support
• Continue to implement self-care strategies so that you are in a healthy decision-making state.
During the last weeks or days of the disease, you may notice a nonverbal indication of willingness to let go of life. The person is communicating their readiness to die. This is a positive way of ending their life.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As a caregiver, it is important to understand and act according to your own physical and emotional limitations. Be sure to take care of yourself, and allow yourself periods of rest and relaxation. Inspite of these to become caregiver is not only job or a duty. It is doing what is right for who needs assistant.
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