Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 Patti, Community Member, asks

Q: Body shut down

A year ago, my 67 year old husband was diagnosed with degenerative dementia, now appears to be in the beginning of stage 7. How long before his body shuts down completely?

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Answers (2)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
6/16/09 11:16am

That is different with everyone, but it's not usually long. His organs have "forgotten" how to function. Hospice is great at this time, if you haven't tried them yet. They will keep him comfortable. Comfort is what you will want for him now. Comfort and your presence.


Even though you knew this would happen you will feel grief. However, you will likely have very mixed emotions, as he (and you) have been through so much. Again, hospice can help you thorough this confusing period. If you don't use hospice, please make good use of anyone who understands and will not judge your feelings.




Carol, Community Member
6/11/11 2:39pm

I take care of my friends mother everyday while she works, she has siblings but her two bothers don't help at all and her sister stops by for about an hour a day. Mom seems to be in stage 7 for awhile she has just shook her head up and down. Now, she lays down almost all the time. In bed on the sofa even if we take her for a ride in the car. Is this a sign of a decline in her fight against dementia? Is her organs starting to shut down? Looking for advice. Thank you so much,Carol

Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
6/12/11 9:08am

It sounds like the process may be beginning. Going for comfort care is generally best once stage 7 is reached, though everyone is different. Consult with the doctor, of course, in case there's some issue, such an infection that can be resolved. If that isn't the case, let her sleep and keep her comfortable. You can call in hospice if pain is an issue. The doctor can help with that, too.

Take care,


AFA Social Services, Health Guide
6/17/09 2:37pm

I am sorry to hear about your husband’s rapid progression.  As you may already know, Alzheimer’s disease is considered a progressive neurodegenerative illness, which means that the illness causes more and more damage to the brain over time.  As the brain deteriorates, an individual can suffer with the loss in the ability to think, function, act, remember, and control their bodies.  Unfortunately, due to the illness, the organs may function correctly but the brain can’t manage the effort.  Every individual progresses differently with the illness, as some people can live only a few years, where others can live for up to 20 years. Knowing this, it is important to understand and recognize changes of condition, in order to discuss concerns with his healthcare provider and promote the best quality of life for your husband.  His body shutting down can not be predicted as there are many factors that could influence his progression at this stage.  You may want to speak to a healthcare professional regarding the end stages of the illness and what to expect over time.           
If your husband is in the end stages of the illness, it is more likely he is totally dependent on others.  It is important he be kept comfortable and his safety is of utmost concern.  Communication may be nearly impossible for him but it is essential you keep the communication open by telling him he is safe and that you are there to help and support him. He may not be able to respond to you but talking to him can be beneficial and therapeutic for both you and your husband during this difficult time.
It is important that you take care of yourself as well.  Talking to friends, joining a support group or simply taking a walk can help you take some time to collect your thoughts, vent any anger, grief and confusion in order to adopt a renewed sense of hope and feeling of calmness.  Your husband needs your support and love at this time and is lucky to have you by his side.  

Patti, Community Member
6/18/09 1:19am

Thank you for your response.  He was in an assisted living for 9 months and now a nursing home, since his diagnosis.  I realized in the beginning that it wasn't safe for him to be at home, or for me or others.  No way would I have been able to keep him out of a vehicle to drive, or off farming equipment.  I would have just been an obstacle in his way.  He is an hour away, and I go there every day, his comfort is me being with him.  However, his time concept is such that if I am not able to go, the next time I do, to him, it is the day after the last time that I was there.


He is not at the point of needed hospice as yet, but the decline is so rapid.  Walking is becoming very difficult, and a wheelchair necessary at times.  Other symptoms of stage 7 are more evident, as it seems he is beyond 6.  He is finally cooperative in taking medication and allowing hygiene care.  The change from assisted living to nursing home was much different than I expected.  He is very accepting, as if he was always there.  The conditions are such a drastic change that I was very concerned.


Dementia is such a terrible disease.  Every day is the same, but different.  Anyone not experiencing this with a loved one, might not understand that statement.


I appreciate so much everyone's input with thoughts and concerns.



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By Patti, Community Member— Last Modified: 01/05/14, First Published: 06/16/09