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(originally published to Helium writing site, now gone)

At the severe stage of Alzheimer’s disease, short-term and long-term memory is very poor or non-existent. Communication is simple and might comprise single words or phrases without linking things, or people may lose their speech altogether.

Ninety percent of patients at this stage of Alzheimer’s experience apathy. Aggression is less common, as a person has by this time lost the will and is too tired. Extreme exhaustion sets in and they sleep a lot. They need help with daily activities. Washing, dressing and eating independently are not possible. They are increasingly incontinent and need help with the toilet.

They are unsure of current surroundings or recent events, and might forget significant amounts of personal history and names of family members. Their personality changes. Delusions, hallucinations and paranoia are common. They may wander from home and get lost.

Eventually, a person can’t control their movements. They can’t walk, sit or smile, and they don’t know family members, including their spouse, although sometimes this could be partly due to visual impairment. They have seizures and weight loss and may refuse to drink or eat.

Finally, mobility is impaired and the person can’t get out of bed. Their whole body is overcome with the disease. They are susceptible to pneumonia, pressure sores and ulcers, and can die from these conditions before their body falls apart from the effects of Alzheimer’s.