The death of a loved one can be a challenging concept that is difficult to understand and accept. But knowing what to expect can help when your loved one has advanced dementia. It can help you understand what the future holds so you can prepare emotionally and practically.
This article explains how dementia progresses and what happens in advanced dementia.
Progression of dementia
A person with dementia will follow a typical pattern of decline. But the pace varies from person to person.
A person with Alzheimer's may have a hard time remembering new information. Recent names, events, or conversations are no longer easy to remember. They may show signs of depression and indifference. Scheduling or performing routine tasks can be difficult.
As the disease progresses, the person is often confused and disoriented. They have communication problems (both verbal and written). Poor judgment and rejection of activities you once enjoyed are also common.
It is important to note that there are different types of dementia . Symptom patterns differ based on the specific brain changes each type has. In the early stages of the disease, a wide range of symptoms can appear.
People with Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer's can have similar early symptoms. For example, memory leak is common in both conditions. However, the progression of Lewy body dementia results in other symptoms. A person with this condition may experience hallucinations , trouble sleeping, and difficulty walking.
In contrast, people in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia generally do not have memory problems. Instead, they may have obvious changes in personality and behavior.
However, in the late stage of dementia, the symptoms are the same for all types of dementia. In the last stage, a person experiences a sharp decrease in daily activity .
Late stage of dementia
One day, your loved one with dementia will develop advanced dementia. This stage is also called end-stage dementia or late -stage dementia. In this stage, your symptoms become severe.
The person will have problems with daily functions. These include bathing, dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom.
At this point, your loved one will not be able to walk or sit without assistance. They will be bedridden and will need constant care.
They will also lose the ability to speak and show facial expressions such as smiling. This change can be especially difficult for those close to you to see.
How dementia causes death
A person with advanced dementia is susceptible to a variety of medical complications . Because they cannot move, they are at special risk under certain conditions.
After all, most people with advanced dementia die from a previous dementia or a complication associated with it. For instance:
- A person can die from an infection such as aspiration pneumonia . If someone has trouble swallowing, food or liquid may enter the wrong tube. Instead of entering the esophagus or stomach, it is inhaled into the airways or lungs. This leads to a pneumonia called aspiration pneumonia.
- Another person may die from a blood clot in the lung because they are bedridden and immobile.
It is important to know that advanced dementia is incurable and can lead to death. In these cases, the death certificate may list dementia as the cause of death.
A person with terminal dementia can die from an infection or other medical complication. But it was their severe dementia that caused the complication and made them too weak to fight it.
Someone can have different types of dementia. In the early stages of dementia, symptoms differ depending on the type of dementia.
As time passes and dementia progresses, symptoms become the same for all types of dementia. People call this late-stage or end-stage dementia. At this stage, your loved one may be at very high risk for complications.
People with end-stage dementia often die from complications associated with their dementia.
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Although advanced dementia is incurable and ultimately fatal, it can still help your loved one. You can provide comfort and actively participate in your care.
Hospice care is available and recommended for people with advanced dementia. Hospice specializes in relieving pain and treating your loved one's symptoms. Comfortable eating and oral care are some of the strategies. Even pleasant activities like music or relaxing touch can help.
With this approach, you can be proactive, loving, and supportive. You can take care of your loved ones without subjecting them to unnecessary treatments.