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Five Issues Common with Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

By Rick Cohen, 4:36 pm on

The reality of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for family members to cope with. While many families can often provide support and assistance during early and mid-stages, the late stages of the progressive disease can evoke new emotions in family members as their loved one experiences dramatic changes in cognition, behavior and physical appearance.

If you provide home care for an aging parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s, you may be wondering what to expect in the final stages of the disease. Knowing common issues associated with late-stage Alzheimer’s can help you better prepare for the future, while also ensuring that you provide your loved one with the high-quality care that he or she deserves.

  1. Fidgeting – During the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one may constantly fidget with whatever is at his or her disposal. For instance, your loved one may pull his or her hair, tug at his or her clothes, or move his or her hands back and forth.
  2. Late Day Agitation – A common symptom in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s is extreme agitation, especially toward the end of the day during the late afternoon or evening hours, an issue more commonly referred to as sundowning.
  3. Immobility – Although immobility can impact quality of life, being chair or bedridden can also increase risk for pressure sores, illnesses such as pneumonia, falls, and urinary tract infections. Seniors in the very late stages of Alzheimer’s may also not be able to sit up in bed without assistance.
  4. Loss of Speech – Individuals in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease usually lose the ability to speak in the advanced stages. While nonverbal communication can sometimes continue after verbal communication ceases, it is common for the disease to severely impact or stop the senior from speaking.
  5. Inability to Swallow – Since Alzheimer’s disease impacts bodily functions, seniors may also lose the ability to swallow in the final stages of the disease. When a senior is no longer able to swallow, he or she is often nourished with feeding tubes. Eventually, it will become difficult for the senior to eat, and the result may be significant weight loss.

When a person is no longer able to swallow food or medications, the focus of care often shifts to ensuring as much comfort as possible. This type of hospice care often includes allowing the senior to remain at home, surrounded by their loving family, friends, pets, and cherished belongings.

To learn more about providing compassionate and quality care to your loved one in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Milwaukee and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation to learn more about our highly tailored plans for Milwaukee Alzheimer’s care. Call 414-964-8000 – we’re here 24/7 to act as a support system and resource for seniors and their families.