New or Worsening Symptoms

Physical symptoms may occur due to changes in the body as a result of comorbid conditions, normal aging, or worsening dementia. Persons with advanced dementia often show the effects of these symptoms through changes in behaviour because they are unable to articulate them with language.

In some cases, we may be able to identify and treat/remove the underlying cause (e.g. discomfort due to constipation) but in other cases we can only treat the symptoms (e.g. pain due to arthritis). If symptoms get worse and are of ongoing concern to the person, family or staff, a facilitated case conference involving the multidisciplinary team may be useful for finding ways to improve client comfort. Symptoms that may trigger a case conference are varied but may include:

  • A change or increase in pain (often evidenced by facial expression or vocalisation)
  • Breathing difficulties or excessive respiratory secretions
  • Agitation or apathy
  • Delirium
  • Any other changes in the person’s usual behaviour without obvious explanation

Further information to assist in the preparation of a facilitated case conference, suggestions on who to include, and tools to assist in facilitating a case conference can be found using the menu.

Last updated 13 October 2015