Options For Late-Stage Dementia Patients

Caregivers may find it difficult to provide emotional or spiritual solace to a person with significant memory loss as dementia progresses. Even in the later to end-stage dementia, though, such linkages may be beneficial. 

Palliative or hospice care teams may be able to help people with dementia and their families connect as they approach death. They may also detect when someone with dementia is in their final days or weeks. Read to know what your options for late-stage dementia patients are. 

What To Know About Late-Stage Dementia

Dementia symptoms are severe at the end of the disease. Individuals lose their ability to respond to their surroundings, converse, and eventually regulate mobility. They may still pronounce words or phrases, but it becomes more difficult to communicate suffering.

The needs of a dementia patient will evolve and intensify as the disease progresses. Late-stage dementia patients typically:

  • Has difficulties swallowing and eating
  • Eventually becomes unable to walk without assistance.
  • Personal care is required on a full-time basis.
  • It is prone to infections, particularly pneumonia.

Extensive Late Stage Care

Since late-stage care needs are so comprehensive, they may exceed what you can offer at home, even with additional help. This may entail placing the individual in a facility to receive the necessary care.

Families who have gone through the process tell us that gathering fact and moving forward is preferable to second-guessing decisions later. There are numerous effective methods for providing high-quality care. Remember that the decision is about ensuring that the individual receives the care they require, regardless of where it is provided.

Hospice Care

Hospice is another possibility. Hospice's basic principle is to provide comfort, care, and support to persons with terminal diseases and their families while maintaining dignity. A physician must diagnose a person with Alzheimer's disease as having less than six months to live to qualify for Medicare hospice services.

Monitoring Sustenance

Monitoring eating is one of the most critical daily caring duties for those with late-stage dementia or Alzheimer's disease. A person's eating requirements will decrease when they get less active. However, someone at this stage of the condition may forget to eat or lose their appetite. 

Adding sweetness to food and presenting favorite dishes may stimulate eating; if weight loss is an issue, the doctor may prescribe taking supplements between meals to provide calories.

Try these methods for helping someone with dementia stay nourished: Give them plenty of time to eat and allow plenty of time to eat.

  • Promote self-feeding
  • Help the person eat
  • Make fluids a priority
  • Monitor weight

Bowel and Bladder Functions

Toileting difficulties are particularly common at this stage of the disease. The person may need to be escorted to the restroom and guided through the procedure. Incontinence is common in late-stage Alzheimer's patients.

  • To maintain bowel and bladder function, do the following:
  • Make a toileting schedule for yourself.
  • Limit your beverage intake before night.
  • Utilize absorbent and protecting materials.
  • Observe bowel movements.

Pneumonia And Other Infections

Because of their inability to walk around, people with late-stage Alzheimer's disease are more susceptible to infections. Here are some suggestions for keeping track of your dementia patient's health as they become older:

  • Keep your mouth and teeth clean
  • Immediately treat wounds and scrapes.
  • Protect yourself from the flu and pneumonia

Pain And Illness

In the later phases, communicating pain becomes more difficult. To determine the source of any discomfort or illness, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, pain medications may be prescribed.

To perceive illness and pain:

  • Look for physical indicators
  • Keep an eye out for nonverbal cues
  • Be aware of any changes in your conduct

The late stage of Alzheimer's disease may last from several weeks to several years. As the disease progresses, intensive, round-the-clock care usually becomes necessary. Dementia can reach its late stage in as little as a few weeks. 

Typically, intensive, round-the-clock care is required as the disease progresses. However, hospice is another option for those who want to transition from dementia home care to professional dementia facilities. If you wish to understand dementia care more, read through our blogs at Senior Strong.

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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