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End-stage dementia patients deserve the same access to palliative care as people with cancer
Date:5/12/2008

althcare disciplines can work together to enhance the quality of care they provide older people in the end stages of dementia. These include:

  • Communicating the diagnosis of dementia in a sensitive way and indicating, as clearly as possible, how the disease is likely to progress.

  • Acknowledging the potential influence that the individual beliefs and values of the healthcare team - such as difficult drug and treatment decisions - may have on the care provided.

  • Improving and providing timely and accurate communication about key issues, including the role of advanced directives, such as living wills or do not resuscitate orders.

  • Reconsidering aggressive medical treatments that have limited benefits and may cause further discomfort to dying patients.

  • Encouraging professionals, carers and, where possible, patients to work together to plan appropriate care tailored to the needs of the individual.

  • Reinforcing the need for multi-disciplinary ways of working.

  • Reconsidering the most appropriate place to deliver end-of-life care.

  • Acknowledging the right of all older people dying from end-stage dementia to have access to high-quality specialist palliative care services.

Palliative care services are used to providing care for cancer patients, but high-quality care for people with end-stage dementia does not appear to be given the same priority says Professor Draper.

In the UK, for example, it has been a relatively neglected topic in relation to policy, planning, practice development and training.

Population trends suggest that life expectancy is increasing and this will mean that more people are at risk of developing dementia, which affects one in 1,000 people under 65 but rises to one in five once people are over 85.

Dementia is a progressive terminal illness for which there is currently no cure and patients dying from the disea
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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