Late-Stage Dementia & Alzheimer Care
Many residents in Santa Rosa assisted living are in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These residents have difficulty communicating, walking, toileting, and eating. The role of the caregiver in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease is to provide personal care with the understanding that the resident can no longer express their wants and needs. Caregivers must monitor fluid intake to ensure that residents do not become dehydrated. Likewise, residents with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease will need assistance with eating or require softer foods to facilitate swallowing. (If food consistency in relation to coughing or choking becomes an issue a speech therapy evaluation is often recommended.) Other tasks performed by caregivers include the continuation of tasks often performed in middle-stage Alzheimer’s care such as incontinence care, oral care, and assisted transfers.
Eating and Drinking
One of the most overlooked tasks in late-stage Alzheimer’s care is supervision and assistance with eating and drinking. Residents with advanced dementia have numerous difficulties at mealtime, including the inability to recognize or utilize utensils, engage in self-feeding, or experience a sense of thirst strong enough to stay hydrated. Furthermore, many residents with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty swallowing requiring diet modifications to softer foods and thickened liquids.
The level of supervision and assistance required at mealtime often exceeds the capabilities of larger assisted living facilities with dining halls and menus. While menu options may at first sound appealing they are rarely in the best interest of the resident with advanced dementia. As discussed above, the resident will nearly always have difficulty swallowing foods of normal consistency. Furthermore, many residents need close supervision at mealtime and assistance with the physical act of eating and drinking. In larger facilities with dining halls this level of supervision is often lacking, and if menu options are provided the risk of choking on regular foods is enhanced.
Without assistance or encouragement, many residents with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease will become non-ambulatory or bedridden. Pursuant to doctor’s orders assisted living caregivers should encourage and assist residents with walking and regular movement. While it is easier for caregivers to leave residents bedridden or transport residents in wheelchairs, it is often not in the resident’s best interests. If the doctor encourages assisted walking to maintain the resident’s independence the caregiver will need to take the time to aid the resident accordingly.
Incontinence and Oral Care
One of the most frequent tasks in dementia care is incontinence care. Even residents in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease often require incontinence care, but as the disease progresses the level of involvement on the caregiver’s part increases. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease the resident will require frequent changes of incontinence care products, monitoring of bowel movements, and assisted toileting.
Oral care is another task that continues from the earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s care. In larger assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, caregivers do not have time to deliver adequate oral care; however, the importance of regular and sufficient oral care is critical to the well-being of the resident. The caregiver must adhere to a regular schedule of brushing the resident’s teeth for a sufficient amount of time. If the resident has dentures the caregiver must clean the dentures every night.
Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Care at Wild Rose Care Home
If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and requires 24-hour care contact owner Mary Garcia R.N. at (707) 695-2937. She will be happy to answer your questions and show you our Santa Rosa senior living facilities. Each facility contains six private bedrooms with adjoining private bathrooms, an ADA compliant shower room, and 24-hour staffing.