Late stage Alzheimer’s disease is a time of great uncertainty for family and friends of any senior battling the disease. This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s where many seniors ultimately lose the ability to interact with others or respond to environmental stimuli.
When a senior is in late stage Alzheimer’s, he or she may suffer multiple setbacks. Commonly, seniors lose the ability to control their own movements or speak in complete sentences. They may also be unable to appropriately respond to their own bodily functions, such as alerting you to their needs of urination or defecation.
You may also notice that your loved one can no longer utilize their own muscles or support their own weight. For example, many seniors in late stage Alzheimer’s can no longer smile, sit up in bed without help of a support or even hold their head upright. Another problem lies in swallowing, as many seniors can no longer operate throat and esophageal muscles that force food in a downward motion. Choking is always a concern for seniors at this stage.
Due to such a loss in abilities, caregivers will likely need to supply more help during the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. While caring for a senior loved one, you may be asked to provide almost all of their personal care. That includes eating, brushing teeth and bathing.
As you might expect, during late stage Alzheimer’s, seniors often require around-the-clock and intensive care. As the disease continues to progress, your role as a caregiver will also become altered.
Your Role as a Caregiver During Late Stage Alzheimer’s
Many caregivers find themselves unsure of their role during this time, but ultimately you are there to preserve your loved one’s quality of life and their dignity. Though a senior’s ability to communicate may be absent, most experts agree that their “self” likely remains. As such, it’s important that you continue to connect with your loved one and communicate with compassion.
As care is extensive and physically demanding during the late stages of this disease, caregivers should ask for help from other family members and close friends. You’ll need a break at some point and it’s okay to ask for some relief. It may be just what you need in order to continue providing quality care to your senior loved one.