What happens in late stage dementia?

You are probably dreading this part of the dementia journey because it sounds so bleak. Find out how to make late stage dementia or severe dementia a little easier on everyone

Could this be you?

The person you're caring for has been living with dementia for a long time - perhaps many years. You've both had your fair share of problems but, generally speaking, you've coped admirably well. However:

• They now need round-the-clock care.
• They rarely talk or have little conversation.
• They no longer recognise you or any of their nearest and dearest.

The final stages of dementia can be incredibly hard for family and friends, but it's important to be realistic about what you can – or can't – cope with, and to accept any help that you're offered. Carers are often under a great deal of strain during this part of the journey, so make sure not to neglect your own health or needs.

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Four symptoms of late stage dementia

1. Increased frailty
Weight loss and other health issues, such as arthritis or a stroke, can lead the person you're caring for to become increasingly frail and less mobile. Many people with dementia also gradually lose the ability to walk – they may start shuffling or prefer to stay seated most of the time.

2. Total reliance on others
They will need lots of help with eating, dressing, washing and using the loo. In fact, this may be too much for you to cope with yourself and you might find it's time to consider other options such as a care home.

3. Problems communicating
Their verbal skills could now be very limited but it's important to allow them to talk anyway if they want to, and for you to continue talking to them as you normally would. They may try to communicate in other ways if that's easier. For example, some people may give clues through body language or facial expressions as to how they're feeling.

4. Severe memory loss
Even memories from childhood which were once so vivid may now seem hazy and they're becoming increasingly disorientated. For example, believing they are newly married, or that you are their child not their partner.

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Warning

Each person with dementia is unique and these symptoms are only a guide as to what may happen in the later stages of dementia. Don't take them too literally.

If you would prefer to consider a different approach to the dementia journey, click here.

Good to know

• There are still ways to make life more pleasant and more comfortable for your loved one by stimulating their senses. For example, try playing their favourite music, giving them a hand massage, or spraying their favourite perfume around their room.

• You aren't alone. Get support from other people who are going through something similar, either by joining a support group or by going online and talking to someone in our community.

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