Treating Infections in End-Stage Dementia

Infections are common in late-stage dementia, for reasons ranging from incontinence to a reduced immune system. But antibiotics, the usual treatment, aren't always the only treatment option.

If your loved one is already known to be in end-stage dementia, sometimes doctors will treat infections (and subsequent pneumonia) with comfort-care measures rather than aggressive antibiotics. Comfort care means that the person will be treated for pain and discomfort, but no lifesaving measures (such as antibiotics) will be pursued.

Every comfort-care decision is an individual one. The answer rests on many factors, including the person's overall health and prognosis, living will directives, and quality of life, among others. But know that if it's recommended in a particular case, the goal will be to make your loved one free of distress during the course of the infection.

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