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So much of end of life care is about providing comfort. This is true as well for people in palliative care, but perhaps to a lesser degree. According to the National Institute on Aging, “comfort care is an essential part of medical care at the end of life. It is care that helps or soothes a person who is dying.”
Sensory stimulation can be a big part of treatment at this advanced stage. Touching – hand massage or gently rubbing the forehead, is best, but soft textures and lights also work well. Lightly stroke the arms or legs with a soft piece of fur, for example
Other favorites include familiar and pleasant smells, like lavender or roses. Favorite music, or music that is pleasing. It is surprising that some older memories can survive even this late stage of dementia. Reminiscing exercises can now be one of the most comforting experiences. Old family photographs and music are perhaps the most effective means to evoke old, hidden memories. This reminiscencing process is not only enjoyable but provides verification of the individuals worth.
We support hospices all over the country, and two of the favorite items of these services are our Therapy Muffs and the Busy Bee Lap Pad. These provide feedback for many of the senses, and have fun things to keep hands busy. The Busy Bee weighs about 5 pounds to provide comforting proprioceptive feedback. Two other favorites are our weighted neck wraps that can be warmed, and our whole line of aromatherapy products.
Anything that stimulates the senses also stimulates the brain. Such stimulation can have marvelous effect, though because of diminished communication skills, it is not always easy or possible to know. Watch the face for indication that your efforts are appreciated.
Purple Angel Ambassador
Dementia Friendly America