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How To Prepare for Later Stages of Alzheimer’s

Medically reviewed by Andrew Turner, M.D.
Posted on February 20, 2024

“My husband has just been diagnosed. I can see the changes every day. I just hope and pray that I can face the struggles to come,” one myALZteam member shared.


My husband has just been diagnosed. I can see the changes every day. I just hope and pray that I can face the struggles to come.

— A myALZteam member

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An Alzheimer’s diagnosis often comes with more questions than answers. It’s normal to wonder what the future holds and how quickly to expect changes. While you can’t predict every detail, preparing for the common difficulties of late-stage Alzheimer’s will help you feel more in control.

Here are some important factors to consider when the disease is still in its early stages.

Learn What To Expect

Alzheimer’s disease progresses from early or mild to moderate (middle stage) and eventually late or severe stages. The condition generally progresses slowly over the course of several years, but the rate varies from person to person.

Initially people with Alzheimer’s may experience memory lapses, behavioral changes, and forgetfulness. Physical signs may include incontinence (involuntary loss of bladder and bowel control) and sleep disturbances.

However, in the later stages, symptoms of Alzheimer’s can include trouble walking, eating, and communicating. People at later stages usually require 24-hour care for assistance with personal care and activities of daily living. They also require supervision to stay safe.

As a person’s Alzheimer’s progresses, they may also become moody, suspicious, or angry, displaying personality changes that can be distressing for family members. Familiarizing yourself with strategies that work for others can help you ride the waves of disease progression more smoothly.

For example, several members of myALZteam have said that they have trouble getting their loved one with Alzheimer’s to shower or bathe. “I have more luck asking him to take a shower right after I do. I also set up his toothbrush, and I leave it by the sink, so I know now he can’t say he did when he didn’t. It’s still a challenge, but it’s working!” said one member.

Identify Caregiving Options

You may have every intention to care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s in your own home, but it’s also good to know what other options may be available nearby. Not only is dementia care physically and emotionally draining, but it’s not always possible if you get injured, have a health issue, or need to continue working.

There’s a wide range of assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities suitable for people with different stages of dementia. You may want to start researching the cost, application process, and services available in case you need to consider full-time care in the future.

Even if your family member stays at home, you may still need additional support beyond what you or other family members can provide. You may want to research in-home caregiving options, adult day centers, or respite care.

Find Support and Resources

Contact your local senior center, elder care office, and your loved one’s health care provider to learn about Medicare coverage for caregiver services, financial assistance, and other resources that may be helpful. It’s important to connect with a community that understands what you’re going through and may be able to connect you to services you didn’t know about.

“I strongly agree about the need for support groups for caregivers,” explained a myALZteam member. “I go to a once-a-month Alzheimer’s support group. But I need it more than once a month.”

In addition to getting support on myALZteam, you can search the Alzheimer’s Association website to find a caregiver support group in your local area. The association also provides a 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.

Start Managing Finances

One member suggested, “Consider each stage of its progression as a disease and the cost for services in advance.”

Alzheimer’s care can become a significant financial hardship for many families. In the United States, Medicare will cover many expenses associated with Alzheimer’s for those who qualify. The Alzheimer’s Association provides information to help you understand how Medicare and other programs can help cover the cost of your loved one’s care.

In addition to planning for the cost of care, it’s important to protect your loved one from making harmful financial decisions, like giving away or losing money. “My mom lost her sense of the value of money, so we put ones in her purse because she started to give away money to everyone she saw,” shared a myALZteam member.

Another member advised: “I would take anything valuable away depending on the severity of symptoms. We got the guns, any valuable jewelry, and keepsakes and put them in a lockbox, and she never asked about them. … She started hiding things in aluminum foil in drawers and cabinets. I knew I had to do something.”

It’s not always easy to gain access to bank accounts and other finances. You can start by gathering information about all of their accounts and assets. Then, meet with a lawyer to discuss how to pursue a durable power of attorney (POA) for financial matters. Ideally, your loved one with Alzheimer’s will be agreeable to the process and understand that you’re trying to protect them.

Get Paperwork in Order

“I found out quickly that my husband was going downhill, and I started making decisions for both of us,” shared a member of myALZteam. “After I had him draw up new wills for us and power of attorney and living wills, I went to the funeral home with our daughter to make arrangements for us both. I didn’t take my husband because it would have been much too stressful, and he would have argued about everything, especially the price. … I felt that was the best gift I could give to my daughter and son, knowing it was settled and paid for and all arrangements were final.”

If you’re concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney, see if your bank has any on staff who can help for a basic fee. “I went through my local credit union, and they have attorneys specifically for that,” explained a myALZteam member.

Ask your loved one about their wishes and discuss big decisions like advance directives with them while they’re still able to communicate and think clearly. Involving them in the process can help relieve some of the pressure and guilt often associated with these difficult decisions.

Don’t Wait To Prepare

Life can become more stressful and challenging when your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses. It’s never too early to educate yourself and start putting protections in place so you can make decisions on their behalf when they’re no longer able to do so.


I met with an attorney for my mom and myself so everything would be completed while she was in the earliest stage. This was the best move I ever made.

— A myALZteam member

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“I met with an attorney for my mom and myself so everything would be completed while she was in the earliest stage. She had been tested, but we did not have the results back yet. This was the best move I ever made. Now she is in the mid to late stage and is beginning to be difficult and accusing.”

Talk With Others Who Understand

On myALZteam, the social network for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones, more than 85,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with Alzheimer’s.

How are you preparing for the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting to your Activities feed.

Posted on February 20, 2024
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Andrew Turner, M.D. completed medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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