There are over 5 million people currently living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, according to the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, Alzheimer's disease, is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be cured, prevented, or slowed down. Because of this, caregivers are forced to handle symptoms as they occur from someone with Alzheimer's disease with each stage. These symptoms can vary and worsen as the disease progresses. To better handle someone in the latter stages of the disease, it is important to know what to expect. Staying aware can help you determine what actions to take as the disease moves forward. Here are some tips for handling someone in the advanced stages of the disease.
Monitoring Food and Drinks
During the latter stages of Alzheimer's, a person's sense of thirst will start to diminish. Not drinking enough liquids can cause them to become dehydrated. To avoid this, you want to encourage them to continually drink throughout the day. Additionally, you can help them find foods with a higher level of liquid content like peaches, watermelon, grapes, and more. Because some people with Alzheimer's lack common knowledge of daily tasks, it is important to help with feedings if necessary. You may have to help them start the process of eating, but encourage them to do some of it by themselves. If using utensils becomes difficult, try providing finger foods to allow them some independence in feeding themselves. If you are concerned they are not eating enough, monitor their weight. This will be helpful in determining if they are getting enough food or not.
Maintain Proper Body Care
Those with advanced Alzheimer's disease can eventually become bedridden of wheelchair bound. A loss in mobility can cause problems with the person's skin. Those who remain in one position for too long can often incur bed sores and stiff joints. To help prevent this from occurring, you want to reposition the person consistently so they do not remain in one spot for too long. You also want to apply lotion daily to ensure that the skin does not get too dry. To help avoid stiff joints, you should work with the neurologist and physical therapist to determine what range of motion exercises can be done with the patient to help exercise the joints.
Look for Cues
A lack of communication by the person suffering from Alzheimer's disease can be one of the hardest things to deal with when caring for them. The last thing you want is for them to be in pain and not be able to tell you. The best thing you can do to help stay knowledgeable about how they feel when they cannot tell you is to look for cues. A change in behavior can be one way to see that something is going on. A change in their physical look can also be a way to tell something is wrong. If their skin turns pale or flushed, you may want to take them to the doctor to ensure there is nothing going on that needs medical attention.