Planning ahead - End of life care and support - Providing support

Frequently asked questions

How can I support my family member as their dementia progresses? Click for answer

  • Ensure there is a consistent routine for your family members, including consistency of the person providing care
  • As a family partner in care, use your powers of observation – you know your family member best. Relay your observations with the person providing care for your family member.
  • Touch is an important communication tool. Continue to express your care and concern toward your family member through touch – holding hands, lightly stroking the arm, etc.
  • Simply being present is important. This can be difficult for some family members but just being there can communicate so much to the person with dementia.
  • Be conscious to expressions of pain and discomfort (e.g., noisy breathing, groans, facial expressions, body language, pacing or being excessively fidgety, change in habits, exhibiting unwanted behaviours)
  • Use body language and hand gestures to demonstrate instructions
  • Do not forget that although your family member with dementia may no longer be able to communicate in the same way, they are still a person worthy of respect and dignity – allow your family member opportunities for involvement
  • If you are the Power of Attorney for Personal Care, ensure that medical staff are aware of your family member's wishes
  • Continue to engage with your family member. It is important to go where your family member is at. For example, if they are at a time when they were much younger, go there with your family member by asking them about their experiences and relationships.
  • Sing a song or play music that your family member enjoyed in the past, read a favourite poem or story, or share favourite photos

Source: The information above was compiled with permission from:

Alzheimer Society of Peel (n.d.). Your guidelines to "A journey through care". Mississauga, Ontario, Canada: Author.

McCann-Beranger, J. (2004). A caregiver's guide for Alzheimer and related diseases. Charlottetown, PE: Acorn Press.

If I am caring for my family member at home, what support is available for end of life care? Click for answer

If your family member expressed a wish to stay at home, consider hiring health care professionals to assist in your care responsibilities. Contact your local Alzheimer Society for some options. You can also contact your Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), family physician and hospice services for support.

Some community supports that can provide assistance during this time include Meals on Wheels respite services, and family visiting programs.

It is also wise to accept offers of assistance from your other family members and friends. You will need a lot of support during this stage – avoid isolating yourself. Seek out family support groups and counselling services to help you with your own grieving process.

Source: The information above was compiled with permission from Alzheimer Society of Peel (n.d.). Your guidelines to "A journey through care". Mississauga, Ontario, Canada: Author.