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What to expect in the Late Stage

A person in the late stage of dementia will eventually become completely dependant on others, requiring specialist care. As the condition progresses, symptoms will be more pronounced and similar across different types of dementia.

This section covers late stage dementia, and offers information on what to expect as well as some advice on how to deal with common symptoms. Visit our What to Expect in the Early & Middle Stage page to find out about early and middle stage dementia. For information on dementia care and treatment, visit our How is Dementia Treated? section.

Late Stage Dementia

In Late, or severe stage dementia, loss of memory tends to become very severe. The affected person will be unable to recognise familiar objects, surroundings and even people (though sudden flashes of recognition are not uncommon.) They will also become increasingly frail, which will affect their movement and cause them to shuffle or walk very slowly. At this juncture, they may face difficulty while eating and performing ordinary tasks. Eventually they will require support with activities on a daily basis. Other symptoms of late stage dementia include:

  • Loss of speech
  • Difficulty eating and/or swallowing
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Losing control of bladder and/or bowels

Many people in late stage dementia suffer from restlessness and can appear to be searching for something or someone. Irritability and even aggressive behaviour is also common, particularly if the person feels threatened. They may also become prone to angry outbursts during personal care, because they don’t understanding what is going on. If the affected person becomes unable to speak, they may still repeat certain words or cry out.

Carers and family should try not to take aggressive behaviour personally. It is also important to remember that the affected person may still respond to affection and kindness, even when they cannot understand speech or recognise people. They might also appreciate music, scents, or tactile stimulation, such as touching a pet.

People with dementia can live for 8-10 years on average, after their symptoms manifest. However, life expectancy and how quickly the disease progresses will depend on age and can vary greatly from one person to another.

Caring for a loved one with developing dementia requires specialist understanding. Particularly since the disorder manifests differently in each individual, and symptoms change over time. At Cedars Care Group homes we provide person-centred care. Our professionally trained staff offer residents and their families one-to-one support on what can often be a difficult journey. Find Out More

Some of the information in this section has been sourced from the Alzheimer’s Societywebsite.

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What our families say

"The team at Ash Croft House are exceptional. They gave our dad fun, love and laughter, as well as highly professional care and kindness during the last 18 months of his life. He quickly came to see it as his home and so did we. Seeing the high standard of care and fun he was having each day, enabled us to enjoy our last months with him and this has been a great comfort to us. We will never be able to thank the whole team enough."