Late Stage Alzheimers
Late Stage Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder, meaning it gets worse with time., The disease usually affects people over 65 years old and eventually leads to death. It can last from 3 to 20 years, but the average being 7 to 8 years. The disease progresses in a distinguishable set of stages. In the early stages, symptoms are barely noticeable. In late stage Alzheimers, the serious symptoms progress and become very apparent.
A person in late stage Alzheimers will probably require around the clock care. The patient will require help with daily personal tasks such as dressing, eating and going to the toilet. In this stage, memory loss is very severe and the person may not be able to recognize family members or even themselves when they look in a mirror. They are however still able to respond to external stimuli such as touch, sounds and smell. They will also be able to communicate pleasure or pain.
Late stage Alzheimers will also cause loss of mobility. An early sign of this is walking clumsily or shuffling feet. The patient will tend to bump into things and may require assistance to move around. Eventually the person may lose the ability to walk and will need to be confined to a bed or seat. Being confined to a bed or chair will raise health issues such as weakened immunity and bed sores.
Another rather serious complication of late stage Alzheimers is loss of the ability to chew and swallow food. This is due to the fact that muscle reflexes are impaired. Malnutrition and weight loss may result so it is very important to encourage the person to eat. To avoid choking or aspiration, the patient should be fed while they are in an upright position. The food should be soft and easy to chew. As a caregiver, one should learn emergency medical procedures such as the Heimlich maneuver should the patient choke while eating.
A patient may also experience changes in their digestive system and may lose bladder control. This is because of the gradual decline in body control.
The caregiver’s most important task during late stage Alzheimers is to provide relief and comfort to the patient. This is sometimes very difficult as the person may have lost his ability to communicate how they feel.
The rate of disease progression in late stage Alzheimers varies with individuals. Longer durations may lead to the caregiver burnout. They will also suffer anticipatory grief which may be very difficult to deal with. The body of the patient slowly shuts down and quite often it is a resulting medical condition such as pneumonia that will be the cause of death.
It is important to remember that medications prescribed for Alzheimers disease do help in maintaining the quality of life for a longer period of time. This includes late stage Alzheimers. Anyone watching over an elderly loved one should learn the early Alzheimers warning signs, as the sooner it is treated the better.