Coping with Late-Stage Alzheimer's Disease
The earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease affect cognitive processes, such as memory, judgement and thinking. As the disease progresses, it affects behavior and physical functioning as well. By the time the disease reaches the last stage, many parts of the body are affected. People often have difficulty with motor coordination, bowel and bladder control and even breathing. This is why the last stage typically requires around-the-clock care.
Let’s learn more about the symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s and how to cope with them. This stage can last for years, so it’s important to have help from home care or other support services as well as a strong support system.
Symptoms of Late-Stage Alzheimer’s
Here are some of the symptoms that people experience when going through the end stages of Alzheimer’s.
- Difficulty walking and moving
- Trouble communicating
- Grunting and moaning
- Weight loss
- Increased sleeping
- Difficulty swallowing and eating
- Increased susceptibility to infections
How to Cope with Late-Stage Alzheimer’s
No aspect of Alzheimer’s disease is easy to deal with, but this stage can be the most difficult. Families know that this is the last stage, and if the disease itself does not prove fatal, a complication can.
Here are some tips for coping with this advanced disease.
- Choose a place where your loved one can receive care. Alzheimer’s care can be delivered in the home, at a skilled care facility or in a hospice center. Decide where you want your loved one to receive this care and what equipment, therapy, medications and assistance are needed.
- Get respite care for yourself. It’s important that you take breaks and get some time for yourself. By stepping away, you can maintain your sense of identity, boost your mental and physical health and reduce friction between you and loved ones.
- Keep a personal connection. As your loved one receives palliative and hospice care, you can use your time with them in meaningful ways. Comfort your loved one with familiar songs and music. Look through old photo books or read them a story. This keeps your loved one content in the moment while creating new memories for you.
- Build a support system. Knowing that you have a long road to go through, it’s helpful to join an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group, speak with a grief counselor and align bereavement services. Don’t let your emotions bottle up inside, or they could interfere with the final time you have with your loved one.
For more information about Alzheimer’s, its three stages and the options for home care, check out these informational videos.