Dear Barbara, My mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2016. She is now in an assisted living facility. Within the past month, she has taken a sudden decline. She didn’t want to get out of bed, lost her appetite and stopped saying much. While this was happening, her roommate, also with dementia, who she had lived with since 2018, was in hospice and rapidly approaching death. My mom had to go to the hospital due to some of her vitals being off and she had a UTI. Her doctor put in the orders for hospice and she was admitted into the program. Then her roommate passed away while my mom was in the room. Since then, she seems to be eating some of her food and talking a little more, but still won’t get out of bed and has some sores from lying in bed. She also can’t do anything on her own as far as toileting and such. Since she has been up and down bad the past month, I just don’t know if it was just her roommate being sick that caused her decline or if my mom herself is just having a rallying moment. Any advice?
Understanding why dementia does what it does is challenging and it generally outplays us every time. Dementia just doesn’t play by any rules.
Most diseases have a pattern. You generally know what to expect. With dementia there seems to be no pattern, at least as far as approaching death is concerned until they have entered the actual labor of dying which can be a couple of weeks and certainly days before death.
Your mother’s roommate's decline and approaching death could have had an affect on your mom’s behavior and decline. We don’t know what she was aware of, could perceive or understand about the activity in her room with her roommate. I believe thoughts are things, that the energy of others affects us, BUT that was not the only cause of your mother’s decline.
Your mother’s disease will naturally continue to progress, no matter what or where she is. Bottomline: nobody really knows why people with dementia do what they do, why, or even when they progress the way they do.
What we DO know is the dementia will progress. Your mom will reach a point of total withdrawal and not eating. Watch the eating and not eating, that is your guide.
Your job: love her, visit even if she doesn’t seem to know you, talk to her even if she doesn’t seem to understand. Use the time you have to bring some sunshine into her life in the manner that she can receive it.
Something More about... There Is No Pattern~ Dementia At End of Life
I suggest that families whose loved one seems to be close to death read my booklet, HOW DO I KNOW YOU? Dementia At The End of Life as well as GONE FROM MY SIGHT, to understand what to expect during the dying process.