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What are the end stages like?
An_250832 posted:

My aunt has had Alzheimer's for about 6 years. After a bout with pneumonia in November, she seemed to forget how to walk. Before that, she was going to her meals by herself in assisted living.

Has anyone had this experience? She is now forgetting to swallow when she eats. What should I expect in this stage?

Thanks for letting me know,
cjh1203 responded:
Hi Sharon,

I'm really sorry about your aunt.

My uncle developed pneumonia about seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's and, while he didn't have the walking and swallowing problems your aunt is having, he did go quickly downhill and didn't live much longer.

Has her doctor offered any information? Is she taking any new medications that could cause her to be over-drugged?

Otherwise, you probably are looking at the last stages of her illness and you might want to talk to her doctor about getting hospice care for her. Here is a good article about late-stage Alzheimer's.

Hospice care is a wonderful thing for both the patient and the family, and they make the last weeks or months so much easier for everyone. If her doctor thinks she has a life expectancy of less than six months, she should be eligible for hospice care, no matter where she is (some facilities will tell you that hospice is not available there, but that is not the case; hospice workers can care for a patient pretty much anywhere).

This is such a difficult thing for you and your family, I know. I hope there is plenty of love and support for all of you.

Best wishes,
Judith L London, PhD responded:
Hi Sharon,

Hope you've been able to arrange for hospice for your aunt. Her symptoms sound like the late stages of Alzheimer's, with 7 years about the average length of the disease. Her swallowing difficulties need to be addressed with a change of diet; the medical personnel should advise you.

Studies report that the inability to eat after food consistency has been adjusted is actually a way people let go, and that it is a relatively painless process.

You've been so attentive to her and she is lucky to have you on her team.


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