Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition that causes parts of the brain to shrink. There are seven stages of Alzheimer's disease, and stages 6 and 7 generally are considered the late stage phases of the disease. People with Alzheimer's progress through the stages at different rates, and symptoms of different stages may overlap each other. At all stages of the disease, it is important to treat Alzheimer's patients with patience, kindness and warmth. Tone of voice and facial expressions may be the only cues that a late stage Alzheimer's patient can still comprehend.
In the late stages Alzheimer's, patients begin to forget familiar surroundings and people. This is the time in the disease process when sufferers are likely to wander off and become lost. This is also the time when patients may forget the names of family members.
Reading and Writing
Late stage Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to write and to comprehend what they read. Magazines and newspapers may be picked up out of habit but are not read and understood.
It is not unusual for people in the late stages of Alzheimer's to experience marked changes in personality. People who are normally kind and docile may become verbally abusive and easily agitated. It is important not to personalise things said and done by patients in this stage of the disease, as they may not be aware of their actions.
Loss of Muscle Control
In the late stages of Alzheimer's, it is common for reflexes to be slowed and muscles to become stiff. Patients may struggle to walk and sit up without help, and movements may appear jerky and somewhat uncoordinated.
Both urinary and fecal incontinence may occur in late stage Alzheimer's. Even patients who are not incontinent will likely need help using the bathroom.
Patients with late stage Alzheimer's disease may eventually lose the ability to speak in a comprehensible manner. Some words or phrases may be recognisable but may be used at inappropriate times. Patients may stop trying to verbalise altogether.
Because those who suffer from late stage Alzheimer's are often unable to easily communicate with those around them, it is common for Alzheimer's patients to develop illness and infections. Because they are not able to communicate their symptoms, problems that are not immediately obvious to caregivers can go undiagnosed.
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