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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Dying process for someone with dementia

    I am caring for an elderly man with dementia who is dying, what can I expect during this process?
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  • 3


    Kate McMaugh


    I'm a registered psychologist who provides general counselling, trauma counselling, parenting support and health-related and lifestyle change counselling in a supportive, empowering environment. I have … View Profile

    Firstly I am sorry you are at this stage of the journey - facing a death, yet feeling so unsure. I think I am relying on both professional and personal experience in answering this question as I have cared for people who are dying as well as  experienced loved ones dying of dementia. I have also professionally supported carers through the death of loved ones. 

    I agree with Cait - it is difficult to reply specifically when there is so little information. However in general tems, each death, each dying journey, will be different and unique. It is often a profound experience for the carer and family of the person who is dying.

    Given the lack of specific information I can only reply in the most general way. I suggest that it is often helpful for family and carers to talk to and gain insight from the nurses and doctors who care for the dying person, day in day out. Many of them deal with death almost every day. They are not only an invaluable support but can also provide insights into coping with death. Because they deal with death so often they can often give some general guidelines as to the possible pathway for the sick person.

    Having said this, I have also learnt that it is impossible to predict the journey in any detailed way and it is also difficult to predict how it will affect you emotionally. It is not uncommon for people to feel that grief comes in waves and often at unexpected times.

    Death from dementia is unique and complicated. Sometimes family and care-givers can feel they grieved long ago and that they said good bye long ago. Sometimes they can even feel a relief that the daily struggles are over. Sometimes this can mean that the physical death is easier than expected. However for some family members or carers the loss of the person can take them by surprise and be unexpectely powerful and distressing.

    Whatever the process is for you I strongly recommend seeking personal support from family and frieds as well as professional help from a psychologist or counsellor if you feel this is needed.


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