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Dementia is a collection of cognitive diseases that get progressively worse over time. Whether it’s Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or Pick’s disease, dementia leads to a significant decline in memory and cognitive abilities of the person affected.
Dementia care experts track this deterioration in stages, categorizing dementia into early, middle, and late stages. Late-stage dementia represents the final phase of the disease when the symptoms are most severe. You or your loved one might require live-in assistance or compassionate palliative care at this point.
Dementia is a Collection of Brain Diseases
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a general term to describe the mental decline that accompanies the following brain diseases:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
- Mixed Dementia
- Huntington’s Disease
- Vascular Dementia
- Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
- Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
You can expect similar symptoms regardless of the type of dementia you or a loved one has. These brain diseases result in memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, mobility issues, and even hallucinations.
Cognitive Abilities Deteriorate in Late-Stage Dementia
Late-stage dementia occurs when these symptoms are at their most severe. People in the late stages of dementia may not be able to speak at all, making it hard for them to communicate their basic needs. This can occur at the same time their physical abilities decline significantly, making it challenging to walk, sit upright, or even swallow.
During this late stage, someone living with late-stage dementia may need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), including bathing, eating, and toileting. While many family members are caregivers for their loved ones, some people opt for live-in care services to help them take care of their loved ones.
As the disease progresses, people living with dementia will also lose awareness of their surroundings. At this point, loved ones may decide to use palliative care services to help them care for someone living with dementia. Palliative care includes a roster of medical professionals and therapists to provide the greatest comfort and dignity at the end of life.
There is no timeline for when someone might enter the late stage of dementia. As everyone’s experience with the disease is different, it can arrive faster or slower depending on your unique physiology.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a broad selection of medical, social, emotional, and practical support for someone with a serious illness. While it isn’t always for health issues that lead to death, it’s often offered to someone with life-ending diseases like cancer, heart failure, and dementia.
A palliative care team consists of doctors, registered and practical nurses, massage therapists, physiotherapists, and personal support workers. This way, the team can monitor every symptom and provide a variety of treatments to provide relief.
Palliative care can improve the quality of life of those living in the late stage of dementia, as it can help them find comfort at such a challenging time.
While hospitals and nursing facilities offer palliative care, many people prefer at-home services to provide assistance. This way, someone living with dementia doesn’t have to experience the anxiety and upset of moving to an unfamiliar place.
Late-stage dementia can be hard on everyone involved. However, there are services in place to help you care for your loved ones, from live-in care to end-of-life palliative services.