Skip to content
End Stage Alzheimer’s: What to Expect and How to Build Resiliency
By Lecia Bushak, beingpatient.com | September 3rd, 2019
Alzheimer’s disease can be a long haul, with some symptoms taking years and even decades to progress. By the time a patient is in end stage Alzheimer’s, however, the signs are clear. They’ve progressed to severe dementia, and will likely need around-the-clock care for physical and mental needs.
Reaching the end stage of the disease can be devastating. But experts and researchers are now exploring ways that resiliency, and a person-centered approach, can actually help people function better for longer in this final stage. Here’s what to expect in end stage Alzheimer’s, and how experts hope new approaches can have a positive effect.
Progression to Severe Dementia
End stage Alzheimer’s, also known as late stage or severe Alzheimer’s, falls into the last category of the progression of the disease. Breaking up the disease into stages helps explain what’s happening medically for both physicians and caregivers. It also helps caregivers prepare, said Sam Fazio, Senior Director of Quality Care and Psychosocial Research at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“We try to talk about the stages as a blueprint that might happen at different points throughout the disease,” Fazio told Being Patient. “But since this disease is so unique to the individual, you don’t want to try to stage people so they come up with a preconceived notion of what might happen. It can be used as a guide, but we should always think about ways that we can connect with people no matter what stage they’re in.”
Fazio said that while the final stage may differ for everyone, some of the common symptoms include being unable to connect with other people or the environment, growing more forgetful and becoming withdrawn. These symptoms may start in the middle stage, but become progressively worse in end stage.
The patient may also completely lose the ability to speak or communicate, according to Mayo Clinic. While your loved one may still say certain words or phrases, they may no longer be able to converse like you once used to.
And perhaps the most striking aspect of end stage Alzheimer’s is the patient’s dependence on 24-hour care for basic needs. That might mean a caretaker will have to help them with getting dressed, using the bathroom, showering and even activities as simple as eating.
What’s Happening in the Brain and Body
Article submitted by Pat France, MSRN Member, with permission from beingpatient.com