Caring for a Loved One Who Has Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

Late Stage Dementia

Caring for a Loved One Who Has Late Stage Alzheimer's DiseaseProviding care with a loved one who has late stage dementia can be heartbreaking and exhausting. It is critical that you take care of yourself so that you do not become ill or unable to care for your parent, spouse, or other individual that you look after.

Medical professionals and the general public are becoming more aware about dementia. This has led to a wider availability of services for people who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs of Severe, Late Stage Dementia

Here are some signs which may indicate that your loved one’s disease is progressing to the late stage.

  • People who have advanced dementia are unable to remember basic information even for a few minutes.
  • They may be unable to speak or say only a few words. Some people who have dementia may say a few repetitive phrases. They are unable to make their needs known.
  • Most people who suffer from late stage Alzheimer’s disease are incontinent of urine, feces, or both.
  • Many people who have advanced Alzheimer’s disease are unable to recognize people, including themselves.
  • They are unable to perform simple activities of daily living. Bathing, mouth care, and the application of clothing must be done by others. People who have advanced Alzheimer’s disease are unable to feed themselves. They are totally reliant on others for safety and survival.
  • If a person suffers from late stage Alzheimer’s disease; sleep patterns may be interrupted. Some people sleep for long periods. Others are restless and fidgety, especially at night.
  • Aggressiveness and combativeness may occur.
  • As Alzheimer’s disease continues to advance, the person may become completely bedbound.

Communication with a Person Who has Advanced Alzheimer’s Disease

Communication with a person who has late stage dementia is difficult. Speak in a normal tone of voice, using short simple sentences.

Body language and gentle touch are often more effective than communication with words, as the person may not understand what you are saying. Use gentle touch to guide your loved one during position and diaper changes. Holding their hand and smiling at them can be soothing for some people.

Some people who have advanced dementia respond in the presence of young children or pets. Keep in mind all communication must be flexible. Keep stimulation to a minimum as overstimulation can be upsetting.

Next page: nutritional challenges in late stage dementia, finding community supports, and hospice services. 

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Patricia BratianuPatricia Bratianu

Patricia is a registered nurse with 40 years of experience. She has a PhD in natural health and is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild.

Feb 25, 2015
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