What to Expect in Late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease

What to Expect in Late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease

As a Senior Living Advisor, I understand how jarring it can be when a loved one receives an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis. The whole family is about to start a journey full of significant changes, especially as the condition progresses.

The most important aspect of dementia care is ensuring that your loved one’s well-being is looked after through the early, middle, and late stages of the disease. As there is no cure for dementia, late-stage dementia is inevitable. However, there is no set timeline for when a patient will reach it.

Many families place their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in Memory Care communities, which are specially designed to help people with progressive cognitive conditions experience a feeling of safety and understanding throughout their dementia journey. The ongoing attention residents receive is especially critical during late-stage dementia, when care needs are at their highest.

What happens in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?

Dementia is a progressive condition caused by abnormal proteins in the brain cells. Some of the more common impairments in someone with Alzheimer’s disease are memory loss, problems communicating, reduced motor skills, confusion, wandering, and severe mood changes.

Late-stage dementia, also known as “severe” or “advanced Alzheimer’s disease or dementia”, is the final stage of the condition. People are considered late-stage when their mental and physical deterioration is so severe that they require 24-hour care to meet their basic necessities.

Many people in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease tend to experience:

  • Advanced memory impairment
  • Severe communication impairment, with increased reliance on non-verbal communication
  • Disorientation of time and location
  • Inability to process information
  • Difficulty smiling or holding their head up
  • Loss of ability to walk, feed themselves or use the toilet unassisted
  • Incontinence
  • Problems swallowing

Someone with late-stage dementia can no longer live independently. For many families, the responsibilities of providing at-home care have become too overwhelming. Memory Care is the most practical option to ensure that the person at any stage of dementia gets the professional, consistent support they need around the clock.

How does Memory Care help people with late-stage dementia?

Every aspect of Memory Care, including the residences, common areas, and programs, is designed for comfortable cognitive stimulation. The staff is specially trained and qualified to provide empathetic, progressive care. They also specialize in delivering activities and strategies that maintain meaningful connections and feelings of safety and peace in your loved one, such as:

  • Gentle, soothing touching, such as hand holding, hair brushing, or light, calming massage of the feet, legs, or hands
  • Spending time outdoors in a quiet setting to relieve anxiety and encourage healthy sleep patterns
  • Music therapy that includes hand clapping, singing along, or moving to the music
  • Aromatherapy that promotes calmness and tranquility
  • Reading out loud to them in a warm, soothing voice
  • Providing puzzles, games, light exercise, and activities geared for cognitive stimulation
  • Supporting practices of faith, such as access to books or recordings that fulfill their beliefs and visits from a spiritual leader to bring them a sense of added support and comfort

Memory Care also provides support with Daily Living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, personal hygiene, mobility, medication management, and more. The common dining areas are designed with vibrant colors on the walls, floors, and table settings for visual stimulation, with nutritious, brain-healthy food prepared by professional chefs.

Can families be involved in their loved one’s care program?

You’ve seen several significant changes in your loved one since they first received their dementia diagnosis. However, it’s important to remember that the person you’ve known and cared for is still there. They still have likes and interests and can feel happiness and joy, even if they aren’t always able to express it.

Many people with late-stage dementia benefit from family visits to help them feel safe, reassured, and loved. That’s why Memory Care encourages families to visit their loved ones and enjoy a day participating in their program, reminiscing about old times, holding hands, looking at old pictures, going for a walk outside, or sharing meals. Many Memory Care communities are pet-friendly, so you can bring the family dog or cat to help bring comfort to your loved one.

Always remember: even if the person has difficulty recognizing you, they’ll feel your loving presence and appreciate your company. The Memory Care team will provide the care your loved one needs so they have great days, even in late-stage dementia. At the same time, you can focus on creating more cherished memories by their side.

No-cost Help Finding Quality Memory Care in Northeast Florida

We know you want the best for your loved one. When it’s time to explore options for Memory Care in Northeast Florida, you need as much information as possible so your family can make an informed decision.

Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators of Northeast Florida can help. Brian and his team take the time to understand what’s most important to your family. They’ll then perform exhaustive research to present the best-fit options where your loved one will be happy, safe, and treated with respect.

Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or bsheridan@assistedlivinglocators.com to find the Best Senior Living Community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!