Dementia is very difficult at all stages, but it’s especially difficult toward the end of your family member’s life. Because she often can’t communicate with you very easily, you’re in a position where you’re stuck not knowing what might be happening from her perspective. You may need to start watching for signs that she’s closer than ever to the end of her life.
Her Extremities Feel Cold or Appear Mottled.
As the end of life grows closer, circulation is not as effective, so you’re likely to notice that your family member’s extremities may be cooler than they usually are. This is often true even if the room or other body parts feel warm to the touch. You may also start to notice mottling, which is a red or purple discoloration that can appear on your family member’s extremities. Both of these issues are related to diminished circulation, which can mean your family member’s body is shutting down.
She’s Having More Trouble Swallowing.
As your family member’s body begins to have more trouble keeping up, she may start to have more trouble swallowing. This can make it difficult for her to eat or drink. She may be experiencing diminished appetite and thirst at the same time, which may make her more reluctant to even try to swallow food or drink.
She’s More Restless or Agitated than Usual.
You may start to notice that although your family member is more tired, she’s also more restless. This might mean that she’s sleeping more often, but that sleep seems to be uncomfortable and agitated. She may shift positions often or seem as if she can’t find a comfortable position at all.
Her Breathing Is Changing.
Your family member’s breathing may start to become more shallow or even seem to slow way down or almost stop at times. This can be disconcerting for you as her caregiver, of course. You may even notice that she does stop breathing for a few seconds at a time before drawing in another breath. Talk with her doctor about whether there are other measures you or your family member want to take at that point.
It’s really difficult to know what is going on with your family member if her dementia is at an advanced stage. End-of-life care providers can help you learn to recognize these and other signs that there may be some big changes to your family member’s condition coming up.
If you or your aging loved one could benefit from End of Life Care in Santee, SC, contact the caring staff at Grove Park Hospice, (803) 536-6644