Visiting in the late stage
While providing comfort and dignity to the person with dementia is the priority throughout the disease, it will be especially important during the late stage and end-of-life care.
Communication is the key
Communication in the late stage of dementia continues to be important to maintain relationships. As remaining abilities fade, it is often difficult to figure out how to stay in touch. It may be helpful to remember that the person's need for companionship and belonging remains. Although she may no longer recognize you, the sound of your voice may be very comforting. Sometimes a smile or squeeze of your hand can indicate recognition, even though speech may be gone.
You may find some other ideas in the following chart helpful when you visit:
|Touch: A gentle kiss or hand holding can be very reassuring.
|Sensory stimulation: Massaging the hands, legs and feet with scented creams or oils can stimulate the senses, as can perfume, flowers, food and fabrics of different textures.
|Facial expressions: A smile, a comforting gaze or a look of affection can often provide reassurance to the person.
|Music: For many people with dementia, music can provide comfort and familiarity.
|Visitors: Visits from friends and relatives -- even though they may not be recognized or remembered -- can provide stimulation and comfort. Laughter can also be comforting.
|Books: Reading a favourite book or poem can provide enjoyment, as can passages from religious or inspirational books.
|Walk: If she is mobile, or uses a wheelchair, a walk outside on a sunny day or a stroll around the facility grounds can provide needed stimulation. Indoor areas such as a greenhouse or lounge may also be stimulating.
Last Updated: 12/16/11