Glossary

Dementia and end-of-life care

Glossary

Advance care planning: The process of planning for a person’s future health-care where the person has conversations with close family and friends about their values and beliefs.

Advance health directive: A set of documents containing instructions that consent to, or refuse, specified medical treatments and that states the care and lifestyle preferences in anticipating possible future circumstances.

Aggressive medical care: Intensive medical treatment designed to preserve and prolong life.

Ambiguous loss: The type of loss you feel when a person with dementia is physically here, but may not be mentally or emotionally present in the same way as before.

Antibiotics: Medication used to treat bacterial infections.

Artificial / Intravenous hydration: Liquid administered to a person through a needle in a vein in the person’s hand or another part of the body.

Bereavement services: Services provided to anyone who has experienced a loss, including the process of healing from the loss.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): An emergency lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

Care or support of a family member: Means that you provide psychological or emotional support; or arrange care by a third party; or directly provide or participate in the care.

Comorbidity: When two or more chronic conditions exist at the same time.

Compassionate care benefits: Benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.

Do not resuscitate (DNR) / Do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR): A legal order to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in respect of the person's wishes.

Emergency hospitalization: When a person is admitted to a hospital without warning. 

End of life: Stage of life where a person is living with and impaired by a condition.

Family: Includes anyone in the supportive network of the person with dementia.

Feeding tube: A medical device used to provide nutrition to a person who has a difficult time eating or swallowing.

Funeral director: Also known as a mortician or undertaker, a funeral director is a professional responsible for performing funeral rites. This person often performs the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the planning and arrangement of the actual funeral ceremony.

Geriatrician: A physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in older people and the problems specific to aging.

Health-care team: A team of medical professionals that often includes a physician, nurse, pharmacist, clinical nutritionist, social worker and other support staff.

Hospice: A comprehensive service provided to people living with and dying from a fatal condition. This may include medical care, respite care and end-of-life care for people who are unable to die at home.

Living will: A legal document detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in the event that they become incapable of communicating their wishes on their own.

Medical intervention: Treatment undertaken to improve health or help with a particular problem. 

Opioids: Medications that relieve pain.

Palliative approach: An approach to care that aims to improve the quality of life of individuals and families facing a terminal illness, through prevention and relief of suffering. This involves early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psycho-social and spiritual problems.

Palliative / Comfort care: A type of health care for patients and families facing life-threatening illness. Palliative care helps patients to achieve the best possible quality of life right up until the end of life. Palliative care is also called end-of-life, or comfort care (Canadian Virtual Hospice).

Person-centred care: A philosophy that recognizes that individuals have unique values, personal history and personality and that each person has an equal right to dignity, respect, and to participate fully in their environment.

Psychological family: People you naturally turn to in times of crisis and celebration; the people in your life who are there for you in good times and bad.

Substitute decision-maker: A person who makes medical decisions and provides consent for treatment or withdrawal of treatment on behalf of another person who is incapable of communicating their wishes on their own.

Transfers to the hospital: Moving a person from home or a long-term care home to the hospital by ambulance.

Ventilator: A machine used to assist with breathing if a person cannot breathe independently.

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