End of life conversations are essential for people with dementia
We all have a tendency to avoid conversations about death or dying, but it’s essential to know what your older adult’s end-of-life wishes are.
That’s especially true if they have Alzheimer’s or dementia and won’t be able to communicate when they’re in the later stages of the disease.
Talking about end of life is important because it helps you understand how your older adult would choose to live during their last months, weeks, and days. These can be stressful things to guess at if you’ve never talked about it.
Experts recommend starting end of life discussions as soon as possible. Too many people are dying in ways they wouldn’t choose and too many family members feel guilty because they’re unsure about their older adult’s wishes.
We found an excellent free guide from The Conversation Project that helps you start these conversations in the earlier stages of dementia. It also includes tips on how to make decisions on someone’s behalf if their dementia is advanced and they can no longer express their own thoughts.
Free guide for Alzheimer’s end-of-life conversations
The Conversation Project is a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
They’ve created an excellent free Conversation Starter Kit that’s specifically for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Having a guide makes these extra-challenging conversations a little bit easier.
What’s included in the conversation guide starter kit
The information is straightforward and broken up into 4 sections. Here’s an overview of what’s covered:
Step 1 (page 3): Get Ready
Having these conversations is difficult and you may wonder if it’s too soon to start talking about it. This section explains why it’s never too soon to start the discussion, how to approach it, and how to deal with it if they insist there’s “nothing wrong with them.”
Step 2 (page 7): Get Set
Once you’ve decided to start having these talks, the next step is planning how to begin. This section includes questions that help guide you through what to discuss and key decisions for end-of-life care.
It also shares tips for how to use the guide if your older adult can no longer speak for themselves because their dementia is more advanced.
And, there’s an additional section with advice on how to use the guide at the beginning, middle, and later stages of dementia.
Step 3 (page 13): Go
After you’ve had the conversation, you now have a better idea of what your older adult’s end-of-life wishes are.
In this step, you’ll make sure that their care team also knows their wishes – typically by filling out official forms with doctors, hospitals, assisted living, nursing homes, etc.
This section also includes several stories from people who share their experiences as advocates for their older adult with dementia.
Step 4 (page 16): Keep Going
This section encourages you to continue to be there for your older adult even as the journey becomes more and more challenging and they draw closer to death. There are many stories that share advice from people who have been through it.
Recommended for you:
- Which End-of-Life Form Is Needed? POLST vs DNR
- The Five Wishes Living Will Makes End of Life Easier
- 5 Important Legal Documents for Caregivers
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
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