Provide Support For Family And Friends
Keep any family or friends informed about what is happening in a gentle, sensitive and supportive way. This will help reassure them that the person is getting the care they need. You could consider signposting them to appropriate services, such as an Admiral Nurse or local Alzheimers Society. It can also help to give them an opportunity to talk about what is happening.
How Long Can The Late Stage Of Alzheimers Disease Last
By Rob Buck 9 am on June 13, 2019
The progression of Alzheimers 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, its natural to wonder how long late-stage Alzheimers disease lasts. However, theres 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.
What Are The Average Life Expectancy Figures For The Most Common Types Of Dementia
The average life expectancy figures for the most common types of dementia are as follows:
- Alzheimers disease around eight to 10 years. Life expectancy is less if the person is diagnosed in their 80s or 90s. A few people with Alzheimers live for longer, sometimes for 15 or even 20 years.
- Vascular dementia around five years. This is lower than the average for Alzheimers mostly because someone with vascular dementia is more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack than from the dementia itself.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies about six years. This is slightly less than the average for Alzheimers disease. The physical symptoms of DLB increase a persons risk of falls and infections.
- Frontotemporal dementia about six to eight years. If a person has FTD mixed with motor neurone disease a movement disorder, their dementia tends to progress much quicker. Life expectancy for people who have both conditions is on average about two to three years after diagnosis.
To find out about the support available to someone at the end of their life, and to their carers, family and friends, see our End of life care information.
You can also call Alzheimers Society on 0333 150 3456 for personalised advice and support on living well with dementia, at any stage.
Dementia Connect support line
- Page last reviewed:
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How Dementia Causes Death
A person in the late stage of dementia is at risk for many medical complications, like a urinary tract infection and pneumonia . They’re at an even higher risk of certain conditions because they’re unable to move.
Trouble swallowing, eating, and drinking leads to weight loss, dehydration, and malnutrition. This further increases their risk of infection.
In the end, most people with late-stage dementia die of a medical complication related to their underlying dementia.
For example, a person may die from an infection like aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia usually happens because of swallowing problems.
A person may also die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedbound and not mobile.
It’s important to know that late-stage dementia is a terminal illness. This means that dementia itself can lead to death. Sometimes this is appropriately listed as the cause of death on a death certificate.
Factors That Influence The Time Between Alzheimers Stages
Theres a noticeably large time range in terms of how long people live with Alzheimers, which is due to the variances in peoples overall health and levels of support. Seniors with high levels of support at home tend to go through each stage more slowly and live longer than people without help. Most people can live for several years with late-stage Alzheimers, but it does require their families to make decisions about how to provide high-quality care. Helping your loved one receive proper nutrition and prevent injuries allows him or her to enjoy a higher quality of life in this final stage.
It can be extremely helpful to enlist the help of a professional caregiver with specialized training in Alzheimers care, which includes unique methods designed to boost cognitive health. The type of in-home careseniors 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 seniors individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.
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Mild Alzheimers Or Moderate Decline
Stage 4 lasts about two years and marks the beginning of diagnosable Alzheimers disease. You or your loved one will have more trouble with complex but everyday tasks. Mood changes such as withdrawal and denial are more evident. Decreased emotional response is also frequent, especially in a challenging situation.
New signs of decline that appear in stage 4 may include:
- losing memory of personal history
- trouble with handling finances and bills
- inability to count backward from 100 by 7s
A clinician will also look for a decline in areas mentioned in stage 3, but theres often no change since then.
Caregiver support: Itll still be possible for someone to recall weather conditions, important events, and addresses. But they may ask for help with other tasks such as writing checks, ordering food, and buying groceries.
Physical Difficulties In The Later Stages Of Dementia
The physical changes of late-stage dementia are partly why the person is likely to need much more support with daily living. At this stage they may:
- walk more slowly, with a shuffle and less steadily eventually they may spend more time in a chair or in bed
- be at increased risk of falls
- need a lot of help with eating and so lose weight
- have difficulty swallowing
- be incontinent losing control of their bladder and bowels.
The persons reduced mobility, in particular, raises their chances of blood clots and infections. These can be very serious or even fatal so it is vital that the person is supported to be as mobile as they can.
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Where To Care For A Person In The Last Stages Of Dementia
When your loved one moves into the last stages of Dementia, you have a number of options for his or her care. The best time to decide about where they should spend the last months of their life should occur during the earlier stages when the patient can still participate in the decision. Moving dementia patients in the later stages can have significant challenges for both patients and caregivers. Dementia patients can receive support in the following settings:
Traditional home Your lovedone can continue to live in his or her own home as long as they receiveappropriate care services and the proper medical equipment is available for use
Assisted living The same asabove but in a building where the patient has a private appointment, and memorycare and other services are provided
Nursing home Onky appropriateif the patient has other accompanying health issues
Those experiencing late-stage Dementia often have more frequent hospital stays, but staying for a long time in a hospital setting is generally unfeasible. When dementia patients have entered the terminal phase of their lives, their caregivers can elect to obtain hospice services, either in the home or at a stand-alone hospice facility, to keep their loved ones as comfortable as possible.
How Fluid Deprivation Affects The Terminally Ill
The absence of hydration is a normal part of the dying process and allows a more comfortable death over a period of days. The use of IV hydration can prolong dying for weeks and physically burdens the person. While intravenous hydration may temporarily provide fluid, it cannot maintain nutritional requirements. Increased hydration may also decrease the person’s comfort because hydration promotes excessive respiratory secretions, resulting in breathing difficulties. In one study 8 out of 10 hospice nurses agreed that dehydration is not painful, and more than half of them said that it’s beneficial. Printz reported that terminally ill patients in end-stage dehydration experienced less discomfort than did patients receiving medical hydration. One explanation for this is that dehydration causes the production of ketones, which have an anesthetic effect.
Check Their Advance Care Plan
You should find out if the person has an advance care plan. This document may record their preferences about the care theyd like to receive, including what they want to happen, what they dont want to happen and who they want to speak on their behalf. It may include an advance statement or an advance decision. We have information on planning ahead for patients and their families, which you might find useful.
Medication And Its Side Effects
Many patients with Alzheimers Disease and other dementias take prescription drugs that can temporarily improve dementia symptoms. Although primarily prescribed for Alzheimers patients, cholinesterase inhibitors are sometimes prescribed for vascular Dementia, Lewey Body dementia, and Parkinsons Disease Dementia. These medications, including Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne, work by boosting chemicals involved in memory and judgment. Memantine works by regulating glutamate activity and is only prescribed to Alzheimers patients.
Doctors may also prescribe medications to treat depression, sleep disturbances, agitation, hallucinations, and other medical problems. Some drugs prescribed for behavioral problems in dementia patients can have severe side effects and may increase confusion or present other problems.
Side effects of cholinesterase inhibitors include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, slowed her rate, fainting, and sleep problems. Memantine can produce dizziness.
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Stage : Severe Decline
As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. They might also mistake a person for someone else, for instance, think their wife is their mother. Delusions might set in, such as thinking they need to go to work even though they no longer have a job.
You might need to help them go to the bathroom.
It might be hard to talk, but you can still connect with them through the senses. Many people with Alzheimer’s love hearing music, being read to, or looking over old photos.
At this stage, your loved one might struggle to:
- Feed themselves
Being Your Loved Ones Prosthetic Memory
A person-centered approach emphasizes a patients strength, resiliency and functionality rather than their deficits, or the state of their disease. This is something that caregivers and especially loved ones and family members can take into their own hands.
Knowing who that person is, and weaving that into everything you do how can that allow the person to function more because youre focusing on strengths rather than deficits, Fazio said.
One way to do that is to be a prosthetic memory for your loved one, Fazio said. Sharing old photographs, music, favorite foods or reading books they enjoyed could help you connect with people in ways other than verbally.
Its about realizing that just because the person cant communicate memories, it doesnt mean they dont know their memories, Fazio said. We dont really know whats going on in the brain. Lets assume they know everything, but theyve lost the ability to initiate that to us.
Learn more about end stage Alzheimers and the features of a person-centered approach here.
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Moderate Dementia Or Moderately Severe Decline
Stage 5 lasts about 1 1/2 years and requires a lot of support. Those who dont have enough support often experience feelings of anger and suspiciousness. People in this stage will remember their own names and close family members, but major events, weather conditions, or their current address can be difficult to recall. Theyll also show some confusion regarding time or place and have difficulty counting backward.
Caregiver support: Theyll need assistance with daily tasks and can no longer live independently. Personal hygiene and eating wont be an issue yet, but they may have trouble picking the right clothing for the weather or taking care of finances.
When The Person With Alzheimers Can’t Move
During the later stages of Alzheimers disease, a person may lose the ability to move and spend much of his or her time in a bed or chair. This lack of movement can cause problems such as pressure sores or bedsores, and stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs.
If the person with Alzheimers cannot move around on his or her own, contact a home health aide, physical therapist, or nurse for help. These professionals can show you how to move the person safely, such as changing positions in bed or in a chair.
A physical therapist can also show you how to move the person’s body joints using range-of-motion exercises. During these exercises, you hold the person’s arms or legs, one at a time, and move and bend it several times a day. Movement prevents stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs. It also prevents pressure sores or bedsores.
To make the person more comfortable:
To keep from hurting yourself when moving someone with Alzheimer’s disease:
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Does The Type Of Dementia Affect Life Expectancy
The type of dementia a person has can also affect how long they live with dementia. These figures for the number of years a person may live after a diagnosis are just averages and some people live longer than this.
This information may be upsetting to read and think about but it is very important to remember that, with the right support, people with dementia can live well at all stages.
Alzheimers Later Stages: How Long Do They Last
By 9 am on September 23, 2019
Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimers disease presents some unexpected joys and many challenges. On a positive note, you get to bond with your loved one in a special and meaningful way while helping him or her remain as vital and active as possible. Whats not so pleasant about the disease is the fact that its a progressive condition, which means you may be wondering just how long the later stages of Alzheimers disease could last.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Dementia can often creep on patients. Memory problems on their own arent necessarily a sign as some memory loss is normal as people age. You should become concerned, though, if a loved one experiences these early signs of Dementia.
Its important to get a thorough examination as some medical conditions can mimic Dementia, yet the symptoms can be reversed with proper treatment. Conditions exhibiting dementia-like symptoms include:
Infections and immune disorders
Bleeding between the surfaceand the covering of the brain
Side effects of medication
The Seven Stages Of Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease is the fifth leading cause of death in people 65-and-older. The National Alzheimers Association estimates that about 1-in-8 Americans in that age group has the disease. Among those 85-and-older, more than 47% will have Alzheimers or some other form of dementia. Estimates are that by 2030, nearly 8 million Americans will have Alzheimers.
While the specific symptoms and rate of decline may vary, researchers have identified seven stages in the progression of Alzheimers disease. It is important to note that while symptoms described here are typical of Alzheimers, confirmation of the disease requires professional medical diagnosis.
Firsthand experience with people diagnosed with Alzheimers can be misleading. Symptoms appear, the diagnosis is confirmed, and the individual soon shows increasingly severe signs of cognitive impairment. As time goes on, the decline becomes even more evident and more rapid. But were only seeing the end result of a process long in the making. The fact is that from Stage 1 through Stage 7, the progression of Alzheimers disease may take as long as 25 years or more.
Stage 1 Business As Usual
Medical evidence reveals that Alzheimers disease may be damaging the brain for nearly two decades before the first symptoms appear. During this time the period researchers have identified as Stage 1 the person shows no outward signs. Cognitive function is normal, and for the individual its seemingly business as usual.
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Caregiving In The Late Stage
If youve decided to care for your loved one during late-stage Alzheimers, youll need to come up with a long-term plan. As a caregiver, your primary goal is to boost your loved ones quality of life while preserving his or her dignity. Create a safe and soothing environment that keeps your loved one calm and puts him or her in a good mood. Your loved one might also benefit from a wide variety of enjoyable activities, including listening to music, playing with a pet, and looking through old photos. All of these activities can greatly enhance quality of life and overall wellness.
Alzheimers can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who dont have experience in providing Alzheimers care. Richmond Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimers care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimers and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner when your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging. Call us today at 207-4746 to learn about our high-quality in-home Alzheimers care services.
What Can Caregivers Do For Late Stage Alzheimer’s
At this stage, you may still be able to connect with your loved one throughout the disease. Since they experience their world through senses, you can express your love and care through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. For instance, you may find favorable results by:
- Rubbing your loved ones favorite scented lotion on their skin
- Reminiscing and looking at older photos together
- Playing your loved ones favorite music
- Reading portions of books with a deeper emotional meaning
- Cooking their favorite food
- Brushing their hair
Remember, the Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center is here for you along every step of the way.
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