tions, including tube feeding," wrote Dr. Greg Sachs, the author of the editorial. "Patients with advanced dementia do not need to have another serious illness to qualify for hospice care -- dementia comes with a high burden of symptoms that warrant a palliative care approach," he noted.
"Families need to know that people with advanced dementia are close to death in the same way that cancer patients are, and they need to think about palliative and hospice care," said Sachs, who is a professor and director of the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and an investigator at the Regenstrief Institute.
Ideally, he said, families should discuss end-of-life care early in the dementia diagnosis, so that everyone can participate in the discussion. And, it's best to have the decision made ahead of time, so you don't have to decide in a crisis situation what procedures your loved one would have wanted.
To read more about what to expect when someone with dementia is nearing the end of life, go to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
SOURCES: Susan L. Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, and senior scientist, Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research, Boston; Greg A. Sachs, M.D., professor and director, division of general internal medicine and geriatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, and investigator, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis; Oct. 15, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine
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