Addressing Spirituality and End-of-Life Care for the Dementia or Alzheimer’s Patient
In today’s secular society, people may have no faith or religion, and this aspect of palliative care (the holistic care — medically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually — of a patient with an advanced progressive illness) may not be relevant to them. That may also be true of the clinical teams providing end-of-life care for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
However, if religious or spiritual practices are an important part of your loved one’s life, it’s important to communicate that information to the doctors and nurses, who may be so focused on the medical side of things that this aspect of palliative care has slipped from their radar.
Hospitals and hospices have chaplains covering the main faiths, and local rabbis, priests, pastors, imams, and so on are permitted to visit. They may also have chapels where services are held and patients can be taken for prayer.
If you want the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to receive last rites, or you want the funeral to be held quickly for religious reasons, make sure the people you need to provide these services are alerted in advance. And don’t feel embarrassed about making these requests; the nurses and doctors will gladly accommodate your requests. And if you and your family want to be at your loved one’s bedside when he is dying, don’t feel that you’re getting in the way. The staff members will be only too happy to make sure they provide the privacy and support that you, your family, and your loved one need.