HAVING a discussion about end of life wishes is essential after a dementia diagnosis, according to peak bodies.
Dementia Australia and Palliative Care Australia released a joint statement emphasising the importance of having an advance care planning conversation with family members and health professionals in the initial stages of the illness.
"Communicating their wishes in the early stages is critical to ensuring people living with dementia are empowered to exercise choice and control over the care and treatment they wish to receive at the end of life," said Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe.
"Having open and informed conversations between key support people and the person living with dementia enables their wishes to be documented in an advance care plan to best ensure they receive appropriate, compassionate and timely palliative care, which includes pain relief and symptom management."
Palliative Care Australia chief executive Liz Callaghan said having these discussions allows the opportunity for the person living with dementia to choose and prepare a substitute decision-maker, who may be required to make decisions when the person is no longer able to communicate their own preferences.
"The unpredictable course of the disease often presents issues around capacity for decision making, difficulties in communication and lack of community understanding of the disease.
"This results in many people living with dementia struggling to access appropriate palliative care and this is especially difficult for people from diverse backgrounds and those with behavioural symptoms of dementia," she said.