Planning ahead

Sometimes a resident may have outlined their end-of-life wishes in an advance care directive, planning for the time that they can no longer make these decisions themselves. It is makes sense to make these decisions as early as possible. An advance care directive documents the care and treatments that the person wants in the future The facility will consider the resident’s preferences when planning their care. 

Family and friends find it helpful to have regular conversations with staff. Regular discussions ensure everyone involved in a person’s care know what the end-of-life care plan is as the resident’s condition declines. Some of the issues that may are often thought about in planning care of people with dementia at the end-of-life relate to when to stop aggressive medical treatments, making the person’s comfort and dignity the main priority, and naming a substitute decision-maker who understands the person and their wishes.

Decision-making and advanced care planning can be difficult. Residential aged care staff can arrange a special meeting to discuss future care. They sometimes called this meeting a family conference. A family conference is where everyone who knows the person, often including the GP, can contribute to care decisions. Families can ask staff to arrange a family conference.

Interacting with a person who has advanced dementia

Families can assist residential aged care staff to know the resident as a person by describing what is important to their relative.
For example:

  • What kinds of things are most important to the person?
  • Do they like music?
  • What kind of music?
  • Do they like being touched?
  • Would they like a hand massage?
  • Were they an indoor or outdoor person - and can they be taken outside?
  • What kind of fragrance do they like?
  • What are their religious or spiritual beliefs?
  • Are there particular rituals that are important to the resident, their family and friends?
  • Are there particular things that are important for care staff to know about a person’s culture?
  • What is the resident’s first language?.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada provides useful suggestions for family members and caregivers to help people know how to interact with a person who has dementia including useful tips for communication.

Last updated 24 September 2018