Different types of dementia exist, the most common being Alzheimer's disease. Dementia, or senility, is a group of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain that are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. During the final stages, which occur five to 10 years after diagnosis, people lose the ability to respond to their environment, the ability to speak, and, eventually, the ability to control movement. Knowing what to expect during the final stages of dementia can help the caregiver as well as the person suffering from dementia to understand how the disease may progress and to make plans accordingly.
Memory loss is likely to be very severe in the later stages of dementia. People may not be able to recognize everyday objects or family members, although they generally remember their own name. They may ask questions repeatedly without remembering that they've already asked and get lost around familiar places. People may put objects in the wrong place-put a pen in the freezer, for example.
People with dementia will have difficulty communicating because of increasing problems understanding what is being said to them and what is going on around them. They may gradually lose their speech, repeat a few words, and have problems with abstract thinking; for example, forgetting what numbers are and what they're used for. Forgetting common words and using the wrong words also make it difficult for dementia patients to communicate and often leave them feeling frustrated since what they are saying is hard to understand.
People with dementia gradually lose their ability to walk and become unable to complete common tasks unaided, such as getting dressed. Signs include walking slowly, unsteadily or clumsily and bumping into things, dropping objects or falling so that they eventually become confined to a bed or chair. They'll need help to move so they don't injure themselves and to avoid pressure sores, which can become infected and painful.
Eating and Weight Loss
During the final stages of dementia, people either eat too much or don't eat enough. Those losing weight will need help and encouragement to eat and drink. Sometimes swallowing becomes impaired due to the muscles and reflexes no longer working properly, and the person may choke on food or develop chest infections.
People suffering from the final stages of dementia may experience urinary or fecal incontinence.
Behavioral changes include changes in mood, personality changes, and loss of initiative. People may have mood swings or become agitated, aggressive, irritable, suspicious or fearful if they become confused or feel threatened. They may become passive and not want to go places or see other people, or they may become restless due to a lack of physical activity. They may also rock back and forth, constantly wringing their hands, shred tissue, tap or fidget. Some may hallucinate and see or hear things that are not real. Others develop delusions; they may believe that they are living in the past and look for someone or something from that time.