Alzheimer’s Later Stages: How Long Do They Last?

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on September 23, 2019

Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease presents some unexpected joys and many challenges. On a positive note, you get to bond with your loved one in a special and meaningful way while helping him or her remain as vital and active as possible. What’s not so pleasant about the disease is the fact that it’s a progressive condition, which means you may be wondering just how long the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease could last.

Average Estimates

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, individuals diagnosed with this condition survive, on average, from 3–8 years after diagnosis. However, estimates by the Mayo Clinic and other reputable sources put this average at 3–11 years. There are also some people with Alzheimer’s who live for 20 years or more after being diagnosed. Ultimately, there are many factors that could determine the length of late-stage Alzheimer’s for your loved one.

Progression Through the Stages of Alzheimer’s

How long the late stage of this disease lasts is largely dependent on the rate of progression through the other stages. Generally, Alzheimer’s is broken down into three stages:

• The mild or early stage – Independent functioning is largely maintained. Memory lapses periodically occur. There may also be some confusion and difficulty performing certain tasks.

• The moderate or middle stage – This is typically the longest stage of Alzheimer’s. Characterized by increased forgetfulness and confusion, moodiness, and personality and behavioral changes, it can last for many years.

• The severe or late stage – Dementia-related symptoms are severe by this point. This is usually when around-the-clock assistance is needed to address both mental and physical care needs.

Families can gain peace of mind when they enlist the help of a professional caregiver with specialized training in Alzheimer’s care, which includes unique methods designed to boost cognitive health. The senior home care seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.

What to Expect During Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

The later stage of this condition is sometimes referred to as severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s. It’s often the shortest stage, since cognitive decline tends to accelerate when this stage is reached. In addition to a sharp decrease in mental function and cognitive skills, it’s characterized by a significant reduction in physical capabilities. Daily assistance is typically needed with tasks such as grooming, bathing, and eating.

The ability to communicate is also severely affected, often to the point where it’s very difficult or impossible to carry out conversations that include more than just a few simple words and phrases. The rate of both cognitive decline and decrease in physical function can vary, although it will progress gradually until many essential functions can no longer be completed.

Families whose loved ones are unable to live at home safely often take on the task of caregiving themselves, but seniors with Alzheimer’s may need a level of care that families simply aren’t able to provide. 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.

Attentive Care During Alzheimer’s Late Stage

Take comfort in knowing that attentive care can have an impact on your loved one’s quality of life as he or she goes through each stage of Alzheimer’s. There are even some medical treatments and therapies that may slow the progression of certain symptoms. There’s no way to prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. However, you may be able to help your loved one remain as active, aware, engaged, and involved as possible with care that includes:

• A healthy, nutrient-rich diet
• Mentally stimulating activities
• Regular physical activity and exercise
• Proper adjustments to medication as the disease progresses
• Consistent efforts to remain socially engaged and active
• A personalized treatment plan that addresses unique needs as they arise

Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who don’t have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. Tucson Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimer’s care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. If you need professional Alzheimer’s home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (520) 276-6555.