Dementia Comfort Care

5 Elements of Comfort Care in Late-Stage Dementia

How can you keep your loved one comfortable once he or she is largely bedridden and minimally communicative? Try these ideas:

1. Warmth. Keeping the person you're caring for warm can be a loving part of comfort care, especially for those who are bedridden and therefore face circulatory problems. Make sure socks, blankets, shawls, and lap robes (in a chair or wheelchair) are in handy supply.

2. Familiarity. If socks and shawls are favorite old objects, their familiar texture, sight, or smell may offer added comfort and reassurance.

3. Touch. Holding hands, offering hugs, or simply caressing the face or a shoulder all communicate affection and promote healing.

4. Sound. Music, speech, birdsong, and other calming background noise are all positive sounds. Minimize blaring TV.

5. Painlessness. Make sure your loved one's pain is well managed. Work with a doctor to monitor pain and administer medication, as needed. Watch for pressure sores, a common hidden cause of discomfort for someone who's bed- or chair-bound.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

10 months, said...

As my husband was dying I kept soothing, soft music playing. Even in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's he knew me, and would give a small smile or purse his lips as in a kiss when I was talking to him. I assured him I loved him, I always had and always would. We had been married for 60 years. He only had to be bedridden for 10 days, and never had to go to the hospital. When he was first diagnosed, and had good reasoning, we had our advanced directives made by a lawyer and so could follow his wishes of no feeding tubes, etc. Hospice care was excellent, and he died peacefully. I now realize how fortunate I was.

about 6 years, said...

The pain management part., my Mother had a pin put in her shhoulder 58 years ago and now with her shrinking the pin botheres her. I give her Alieve for the pain, but if I don't ask if she has pain she wouldn't tell me.