People die from Dementia.
Surprised by this? You are not alone. A recent article in Time magazine addresses one of the most significant myths of dementia – it is a fatal disease. People do die of dementia – yet even health care professionals do not always understand this.
It makes sense really – Dementia is a disease of the brain. The brain controls everything in our body. If the brain is shutting down, so eventually will everything else. The article shares a quote form Dr. Claudia Kawas, professor of neurology at the U of California, Irvine. “We forget the brain does everything for us – controls the heart, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, the metabolism.”
Understanding this, experts believe, will help families make better treatment and end of life decisions for their loved ones affected by dementia.
Dementia is a category, just as cancer is a category with many specific types of cancer underneath it - there are many types of dementia that fall under the dementia category including Alzheimers disease, Frontal Temporal Dementia, Parkinsons disease and many others.
Because dementia clients are rarely able to make their own end of life decisions, families struggle to know what to do, and according to research – have a tendency to choose aggressive treatment for the various symptoms that arise as the body shuts down, rather than considering palliative care. Some of the symptoms at end of life that are caused by brain failure include eating problems, pneumonia, difficulty breathing, pain, and fever. All of these can be addressed through palliative care to ensure comfort.