The later stages of dementia cannot only be challenging for loved ones, but it can be a scary, confusing, and painful time for those living with the brain disorder.
As a person enters the advanced stages of the disease, they could suffer from significant memory loss, an inability to communicate, swallowing difficulties, and poor motor skills, to name only a few problems.
As you will want to ease their pain, confusion, and frustration, you must look for ways to care for their needs effectively. Find out how you can help a loved one living with advanced dementia.
Visit as Often as Possible
As dementia progresses, a person might fail to recognize their loved ones. While this is bound to be an extremely upsetting and difficult time for you, your presence can still help them during this confusing time.
Even if they cannot place your face, it is likely they will have positive feelings when they see you, which can make them feel happier and supported. Therefore, you must try to visit them as often as possible to ensure they enjoy some company and experience positive feelings.
Embrace Enjoyable Activities
Those living with advanced dementia might have difficulty concentrating and may be unable to perform simple activities. However, they may still experience enjoyment from past interests and hobbies.
For example, you could:
Play their favorite music
Provide them textures that once brought them joy, such as wool, if they loved to knit
Light a scented candle they love
During the later stages of dementia, people will often respond to activities or objects that trigger their senses, such as smell, hearing, touch, sight, and taste.
Support Eating and Drinking Difficulties
People living with advanced dementia may also experience chewing and swallowing difficulties, which is known as dysphagia. As a result, they will have a greater risk of choking on food, or saliva may enter their windpipe and lead to an infection. The problem arises due to their reflexes and muscles failing to work properly. As you will want to ease their pain and suffering, you should look for tactics to make eating and drinking easier.
For example, thicker, creamier food and drinks can often remain in the mouth for longer, so your loved one could benefit from a liquid thickener from the likes of Simply Thick. Also, you must ensure they sit in an upright position when eating and even soak foods in a liquid, such as meat in a sweet juice. However, always ask their doctor, dietitian, or speech and language therapist for advice.
Observe Their Body Language and Behavior
As people living with advanced dementia might struggle to communicate verbally, they may use gestures, facial expressions, or body language to convey their emotions or needs. To provide them with the correct help and support, observe their body language and behavior to learn how they communicate. It can lead to more meaningful engagement, which can help ease their frustration, upset, and confusion.