End of life care

When a person with dementia is approaching the end of their life, it can be a very difficult time for them and the people around them. This factsheet looks at what happens when someone in the later stages of dementia is nearing the end of life, and when they die. It covers what carers can do to support the person, themselves and other close family or friends, and some of the issues they need to consider.

You might not want to think or talk about many of these things. You might find reading this factsheet upsetting. But having these difficult conversations with the person, and planning ahead, can ensure the person’s needs are met at the end of their life. It will also help if health and social care professionals communicate well now, with you and with each other.

Planning for the end of life

Planning for the end of life is important for anyone who has a life-limiting condition. For a person with dementia it is important to try and have these conversations as early as possible, while they can make decisions for themselves. If they don’t feel ready to think about the future at this time, getting to know their values, wishes and beliefs more generally can help in the future when decisions need to be made on their behalf (see ‘Making decisions’ below). There is more on making choices about future care (known as ‘advance care planning’) see Lasting power of attorney, and Advance decisions and advance statements.