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Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

What to expect in late stage Alzheimer’s

Until a cure for dementia is found, the condition and abilities of a person with Alzheimer’s will always be deteriorating. The rate at which this deterioration takes place differs from one person to the next. Everyone in late stages of Alzheimer’s will need a full time carer.
 
What to expect from late stage Alzheimer’s:
 
Advanced memory loss
 
This is one of the most distressing times for family members and carers as the person with Alzheimer’s may not recognise them or may confuse them with long dead relatives such as their own parent.
 
Trouble communicating
 
A person with late stage Alzheimer’s will suffer from an increasing inability to follow what is being said or understand what is happening in their immediate environment.  They will gradually lose their ability to speak, although they may try to communicate with noises. A person should not be left without interaction at this stage, as there is little information pertaining to exactly how much cognition is left after loss of speech, and there may still be some level of emotional perception that remains.
 
Inability to eat
 
This is a very worrying symptom of late stage Alzheimer’s as a person may forget how to eat or drink or will not recognise what it is they are expected to eat. Difficulty swallowing also becomes a problem. For these reasons it is common for a person at this stage to lose a considerable amount of weight. At this point carers may have to offer supplements and possibly a feeding drip.
 
Being a carer for someone with late stage Alzheimer’s, particularly if you are not a professional carer and are looking after a loved one, can be one of the most difficult times to ever have to endure. Remember that you are never alone and should not hesitate to seek the advice and support of medical professionals as often as you need it. Lean on family and friends for emotional support in order to avoid carer stress and eventual burnout. 

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