New research published by Alzheimer’s Society, ‘My Life Until The End: Dying Well With Dementia‘, calls for greater awareness of the importance of talking about death and dying. This includes planning end of life care in advance to help make the final days of more people with dementia as good as possible and in the place they want to be.
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Despite evidence highlighted in the report that two thirds of the public want to die in their own homes, in 2010 only six per cent of people with dementia did. This is compared to 21 per cent of the general population.
The report, which interviewed people with dementia and carers about issues that dementia presents at the end of life, found that in many cases people with dementia had not discussed their wishes around death and dying so no-one was able to put services in place to make their wishes a reality.
Recommendations contained in the report include:
- There should be greater support for people with dementia to plan for their future care using legal provisions and in a more informal way.
- People with dementia at the end of their lives should be able to access high quality services to meet their needs at any time of the day or night regardless of the setting.
- Greater attention should be paid to the emotional and spiritual needs of people with dementia in order to provide truly holistic care.
- There should be significant, co-ordinated and holistic support for the person with dementia and their carers wherever the decision is taken to withhold or withdraw treatment
- Gomes, B, Calanzani, N and Higginson, IJ (2011). Local preferences and place of death in regions within England 2010. Cicely Saunders Institute, London.
- Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2011). Deaths registered in England and Wales in 2010, by cause. www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_239518.pdf