The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can look different from one person to another. While some people spend decades in the mildest stages, others rapidly progress to the late stage. As a concerned family member, it’s natural to wonder how long late-stage Alzheimer’s disease lasts. However, there’s no easy answer, since some people spend a few weeks in this stage, while others can continue to live for years. Understanding more about this stage of the disease can help you keep your loved one comfortable and plan for his or her care.
Factors That Influence How Long the Stage Lasts
There are many reasons for such a large gap in the amount of time people spend in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. For some people, other health conditions influence how fast their abilities decrease. For instance, untreated diabetes or heart disease can affect brain health and cause more memory issues. The last stage may also progress faster if your loved one experiences an injury that limits his or her abilities. Providing care that meets all your loved one’s needs can help him or her feel more comfortable in the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
It can be extremely helpful to enlist a professional caregiver with specialized training in Alzheimer’s care, which includes unique methods designed to slow cognitive decline. The type of senior home care seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.
Signs Your Loved One Has Entered the Late Stage
There’s no magic formula for knowing when a senior has entered the late stage of Alzheimer’s. However, you may sense the change, and a physician can assess certain aspects of your loved one’s health to make the diagnosis. In general, seniors in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease may have extreme difficulty with chewing and swallowing their food. They may need help with walking or be completely bedbound. In this stage, your loved one may stop speaking completely or be difficult to understand the majority of the time. Your loved one may also be more susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia as his or her body begins to be unable to fight off pathogens.
When to Seek Help with Care
When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s best to seek help with his or her care as soon as possible. Putting a support team together early on means you always have someone to help with the care. Once your loved one has entered the later stages, it’s critical to have assistance around the house. For instance, you may need to work with a professional caregiver to perform tasks such as lifting your loved one from a bed to a chair to prevent injuries. Professional caregivers also serve as a source of emotional support for families as they adjust to providing late-stage Alzheimer’s care.
Families whose loved ones are unable to live at home safely often take on the task of caregiving themselves, but seniors with Alzheimer’s may need a level of care that families simply aren’t able to provide. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Anchorage Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
Ways to Keep Your Loved One Comfortable
It’s hard to see someone you love enter the late stage of Alzheimer’s, but there are many things you and your caregiving team can do to make your loved one comfortable. Consider this stage as a time when things should slow down. Plan extra time for meals so you can help your loved one eat without distractions. Have someone else do the housekeeping tasks so you can connect with your loved one and provide love and support during times when he or she is aware and awake. Each moment of this stage is an opportunity to further demonstrate love and kindness to your loved one.
Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who don’t have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. Anchorage Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimer’s care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (907) 770-0907.