Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that typically starts with mild symptoms that gradually affect all aspects of life. While it’s absolutely important and beneficial to enjoy every moment you get with your senior loved one as you care for him or her during the various stages of Alzheimer’s, you may have questions and concerns about the final stage of this disease. Below are five details to keep in mind about the duration of late-stage Alzheimer’s.
1. The Late Stage May Not Come for Many Years
More than 700,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, and each one of them will have a different experience with the various stages of the disease, which means the final stage of the disease may not come for many years after the initial diagnosis is made. On average, the last stage lasts for about 2-3 years.
There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Waterloo senior home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.
2. Watching Out for Health Risks Is Even More Important
Late-stage Alzheimer’s is when seniors are most vulnerable to infections, especially serious ones like pneumonia. This is also when there are more difficulties with chewing and swallowing. Problems of this nature further increase the risk of developing a potentially life-threatening infection or accidentally choking. Mitigate these late-stage risks by:
• Reducing your loved one’s exposure to germs as much as possible
• Switching your loved one’s diet to one that includes softer, easily digestible foods
• Knowing the signs of infection since seniors in late-stage Alzheimer’s aren’t often able to vocalize their discomfort
3. Increased Personal Safety Is Essential
During the later stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may wander at all hours of the day since the ability to distinguish between different times of day is often lost. In fact, 3 out of 5 people with Alzheimer’s wander, which could present some potentially life-threatening issues. You may be able to reduce this risk during the later stages of the disease by:
• Strategically placing alarms
• Making efforts to keep your loved one feeling safe and comfortable since wandering often occurs because of perceived fears or basic needs like hunger or thirst
• Hiring an in-home caregiver
Many older adults are choosing to age in place, and some need a helping hand to continue living at home safely and comfortably. Luckily, there is professional at-home care seniors can trust and rely on.
4. Knowing What to Expect Can Provide Some Comfort
Late-stage Alzheimer’s tends to be a period when symptoms progress much faster than what’s common during the earlier and middle stages. As mentioned above, there’s no way to absolutely tell how long the final stage of the condition will last. But this time may be less stressful and painful if you have a better idea of what to expect. Generally, late-stage Alzheimer’s is characterized by:
• Loss of communication skills
• Lack of awareness of surroundings
• Movement difficulties
• Personality changes
5. Active, Involved Care Can Make a Big Difference
On a positive note, you can make the later stages of Alzheimer’s as comfortable for your loved one as possible, which could involve a discussion with your loved one’s doctor to determine if there are any other medical steps that can be taken to help with symptom management. During late-stage Alzheimer’s, your loved one may also benefit from:
• Around-the-clock supervision
• Being surrounded by familiar people
• Mental stimulation with music—musical appreciation is one of abilities that tends to remain in place during the later stages of the disease
• Attentive care that focuses primarily on comfort
For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Waterloo, ON, families can turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s home care needs. To schedule a free in-home consultation with one of our compassionate Care Managers, give us a call at (519) 954-2111 today.