Dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease is a long and challenging process for the everyone involved. It is especially difficult in the late stage of the illness.
Depending on the Alzheimer's Disease model you are looking at, the late stage is the third or the seventh stage. It can last a few months or a few years. A this stage the client is generally incapacitated and suffering from a dramatic loss of verbal skills, inability to recognize loved ones and difficulty with mobility, among other challenges.
The focus of care at this stage is on quality of life and dignity. The client must be treated with respect and compassion and provided with emotional support. Although they may no longer be able to communicate verbally, there is a lot you can do to provide comfort and reassurance.
In the later stages of Alzheimer's, people experience the world primarily through the senses. So focus on the 5 senses: incorporate sensory activities into your program that promote relaxation and well-being.
Pay attention to non verbal signs and body language e.g. wincing, shifting, gestures. Remember non-verbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication.
Reduce background noise where possible and avoid radio and TV; instead play soft and soothing music with sounds of rain, ocean waves or birds chirping.
The goal for late stage Alzheimer's Disease is to make life as good as it can possibly be: physically, emotionally and mentally.
Take into account the historic profile of the individual, likes and dislikes, and provide activities that cater to their remaining strengths and abilities.
|Visual props in bedrooms - a small fish tank, a bird feeder at the window, a clock, fresh flowers, hanging mobiles, lava or bubble lamps.|
|Wind chimes in bedrooms or scenic nature photographs which you can change weekly.|
|Gentle hand/foot massages (1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil and 2 drops of lavender).|
|Pet therapy (ask family if person is fond of animals). ‘Borrow’ a puppy or a kitten for them to touch.|
|Activity aprons for restless clients. Also offer comfort items such as soft toys, tactile balls.|
|Fabric Books (infant books are suitable).|
|Read a poem or part of a book that has meaning to them (ask the family for ideas). Even if the person does not understand what is read, the tone and rhythm of your voice may help them feel in safe hands.|
|Play music they enjoy (ask family) or something from their ethnic background.|
|Scented candles (unlit) in bedroom. An aromatherapy essential oil diffuser is another option.|
|Tasting - ice blocks, jelly, and ice cream. Check with senior clinical staff first because many people with late-stage Alzheimer's have difficulty swallowing.|
|Grooming - brush hair, apply moisturizer.|
|Sit outdoors together, holding hands.|
|Speak gently and reassuringly to them. It may help to make them feel safe and secure.|
|Make a box of mementos to reminisce with - medals, books, photos and sit quietly with them showing them the items one by one in an unhurried way.|
|Position bed or wheelchair near window or door for sensory stimulation.|
We'd love to hear your feedback.
What activities have you found to work well with late stage Alzheimer's?