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Symptoms to Expect in the Late Stages of Alzheimer’s

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on January 21, 2019

Alzheimer’s affects millions of adults worldwide every year. However, the rate of disease progression varies from one senior to the next. Some may experience rapid cognitive decline within four years after receiving a diagnosis, while others have been known to live with Alzheimer’s for two decades. The symptoms exhibited during the final stages involve a great degree of mental and physical deterioration.

Decrease in Cognitive Function

At this point, seniors commonly cannot recognize their loved ones. They’re not aware of their physical location and cannot differentiate between night and day. In effect, they’re often in a world of their own. Once in a great while, afflicted seniors might have a day of cognitive coherence. On these rare occasions, they recognize loved ones and are able to communicate normally.

Incoherent or No Speech

By this time, seniors with Alzheimer’s often no longer speak, or they might mumble incoherently to themselves while awake. Seniors in the later stages of the disorder might answer “yes” or “no” when asked a question. However, it remains questionable whether they understand what they’re being asked.

This lack of communication ability can make it difficult for family caregivers to know what their loved ones need at any given time. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Tucson Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Increase in Physical Limitations and Safety Issues

During the final stages of the disease, seniors need constant care and monitoring around the clock. Some may retain the ability to walk. Sleep patterns are skewed due to the inability to recognize the time of day combined with a disruption in serotonin levels that interferes with normal circadian rhythms. As such, older adults during this phase often wander aimlessly for hours during the day and night, which puts them at risk if they venture outdoors unattended. Seniors are also susceptible to falls if the environment has obstacles or floor coverings that create the opportunity for slipping, tripping, or losing balance.

A small number of seniors become destructive. They may occupy themselves by taking apart furnishings, draperies, wall coverings, and other items within reach. Some are happily occupied by specially designed busy boxes or similar recreational tools.

Many seniors in the late stages of Alzheimer’s are no longer able to walk. Their bodies commonly stiffen, and they cannot rise from bed or sit in a chair unassisted. Some also lose control over bladder and bowel function. They must wear incontinence products and be assisted to the toilet every two to three hours while awake. Caregivers must perform all forms of personal hygiene needs.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming for family caregivers, and compassionate, professional help can provide much-needed support. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Tucson, AZ, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Difficulty Eating and Drinking

Seniors in the final stages of Alzheimer’s are rarely able to feed themselves. They might easily choke on food. Care must be taken to give them small bites of food and allow sufficient time for chewing and swallowing. Food might require pureeing, and liquids may need to be thickened to minimize choking hazards. The high potential for choking and aspirating on food or fluids leaves seniors at risk for developing pneumonia, which is often fatal. Some seniors resist any attempt to eat or hydrate and experience severe malnutrition and dehydration.

If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Tucson seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Home Care Assistance will work with you to customize a care plan that’s just right for your loved one’s needs. Call us today at (520) 276-6555 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.