July 12, 2016
Late-Stage Alzheimer’s and Caregiver Expectations
Comfort is ultimately the most important factor during late-stage Alzheimer’s
By Chris Berry
During the late-stages of Alzheimer’s communication becomes a major issue. Even when you talk slowly and calmly, it is common for the person suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s to not understand what you are saying. Despite not understanding what you say, they will be able to “feel” sentimental acts like a massage, brushing their hair, a hug, or other pleasurable touching.
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Be attentive to expressions like a frown, or grimace or groan because they can still feel pain. Many months of caregiving will enable you to better sense when they feel pain, and how to best avoid it.
Eating also becomes extremely difficult during late-stage Alzheimer’s. Believe it or not, people in these stages can eventually forget how to swallow. Knowing this, try softer, pureed foods. Milkshakes and smoothies are a great solution. Always allow them to take their time to ensure that they don’t choke while eating.
Another common characteristic of those suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s, is to be bedridden. If they are unable to turn themselves over, it is critical to turn them over frequently to avoid bed sores and comfort them.
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It is likely that they will also need to be bathed and fed during this stage of Alzheimer’s. Due to their inability to communicate, it is imperative that this type of care is administered without request.
Alzheimer’s is a slippery slope, as a result, comfort becomes the most important factor during this stage of Alzheimer’s. Music is often soothing. Soft, fluffy pillows and blankets can comfort, while warming socks can help ensure sound sleep.
Lastly, be sure to encourage friends and family to visit frequently and in small numbers to deter loneliness.