The late stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for the senior, and his/her caregivers. To be able to care for an Alzheimer’s disease late stages patient, it’s important to know the symptoms and understand the progression of the disease. It is best to talk to a doctor before acting, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare.
Duration of Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
While there is no correct answer for how long the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease lasts, there are several factors that affect it, such as age, overall health, and the ability to perform daily tasks. The life expectancy of late stage Alzheimer’s disease can last from a few weeks to a several years.
Symptoms of Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetting recent events or misplacing items, Alzheimer’s symptoms in later stages may include –
• Not being able to communicate coherently
• loss of physical abilities, such as walking
• loss of bowel and bladder control
• increase in infections, such as pneumonia
• inability to control basic functions, such as chewing
• requirement of help with daily tasks, such as eating, going to the bathroom
• changes in sleep patterns
• weight loss
Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease and Sleep
Sleep pattern changes are common among seniors but they tend to be more frequent among Alzheimer’s disease patients. People with dementia are likely to stay awake for longer periods and often wander, call out, or are unable to lie still.
Many Alzheimer’s patients nap during the day and experience sundowning. Sundowning refers to increased agitation during the late afternoon and early evening.
Those with Alzheimer’s disease may experience intense disorientation, misinterpreting what they see and the inability to distinguish reality and dreams.
A few things you can do to help out are –
• Encourage morning sunlight exposure
• Maintain regular mealtimes and bedtimes
• Encourage daily exercise no more than four hours before bedtime
• Let the bed be used only for sleep; discourage watching TV in bed
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease and Weight Loss
Many late stage Alzheimer’s disease patients experience weight loss during due to chewing and swallowing difficulties, as well as an inability to perform basic motor functions.
To help a person with Alzheimer’s, you can –
• Hand them the food or drink, if they are struggling.
• Change food into liquid or puree form, after consultation with a doctor.
• Allow them to see their food easily by using a plate that’s a different color than the food.
• Provide healthy meals the person enjoys.
• Care for their oral health.
Alzheimer’s is difficult to manage in the late stages. It’s best to prepare yourself for all possibilities and learn to handle them in case they occur.
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