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How long can this stage last?


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2013.
Went into Dementia Care Home mid 2016.
A dramatic decline within weeks at end of 2018.
Lost ability to weight bear/walk.
Had been on softened foods for a while due to no longer wearing her false teeth, but started having choking & vomiting episodes so put on a pureed diet. Mum has been on Fortasip supplements for 3 yrs already as steadily losing weight.
With the no mobility came fecal incontinence.
She pretty much stopped all speech apart from No and yeah.
No longer showed any recognition of us at all.
Started sleeping majority of the day & night, or awake with eyes shut.
But! she is calm and peaceful.
On no medication apart from Paracetamol and a low dose antibiotic to prevent UTI’s.

Mum was moved to Hospital Level of care Jan 2019.
She has no other major health factors.
Im amazed how she is still managing to hold onto life!

So far she is still eating and drinking, although less as time goes by. Weight loss which nursing staff monitor.
Her bones becoming apparent. Now at 56kgs from initial 82kgs 4 yrs ago.
The only time Mum is truly awake is meal times, as the carers have to lift and reposition her in her chair to make her more upright.
45 mns later back to sleep.

Barring any type of sudden illness or infection, would it get to a point that carers cannot wake her sufficiently for meals and/or swallowing problems or no longer opens her mouth?
Could this be months or years away? Given its been 2 yrs in October.
Last edited:


Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
N Ireland
These things are so variable that the following may not be of much use to you. For what it's worth, the following link willtake you to a site that gives a fair amount of detail about the stages. I hope it helps


Registered User
Aug 9, 2015
North West
Hi @Linbrusco

Its a very difficult question to answer!

There are two ways of looking at staging, @Bunpoots has posted the 7 stage model, there is also a simpler version of early, middle and late (or early, moderate and advanced).

There are a number of factors involved in trying to weigh up where someone might be in terms of staging, but its not easy.

I am reluctant to post what I have found for myself as it is quite a sad finding, but as you describe your mum as not eating and experiencing weight loss, this is quite significant. On the whole what becomes a significant feature in the last 6 months of life in dementia is cachexia which is a condition caused by lack of nutirtional intake that sees not only the loss of fat but as the surplace body fat is exhausted the body begins to use up muscle for energy. This is the stage my mum is now at and is very frail and unwell.

Its important to realise that some pwd will display multiple signs of advanced stages whereas other will only dispaly one or two, which makes it very tricky and at best a guestimation is most likely.

Splashing About

Registered User
Oct 20, 2019
@Linbrusco I remember feeling incredulous that my mum survived so long. She wasn’t eating, not mobile at all, not sure how much she recognised people, limited speech, sleeping a lot and yet she continued. It was a very painful time And felt endless. The day before she died I said to my daughter that I felt like she was going to live forever, there was no sense of pending death because we’d lived with it for so long it had ceased to be felt.

I’m glad she is at peace. I really am. Her quality of life was zero and it was agonising to witness. I hate the disease and grieve my loss but I lost her quite some time ago. She just stopped suffering a couple of weeks ago.

The day will come that her body cannot survive the mental shut down :(


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
The body of someone with dementia seems to cling to life for far longer than seems possible. Mum went for 17 days with absolutely no food or fluid whatsoever. With dementia the body starts closing down, but very slowly. It is so difficult to watch. I would guess @Linbrusco that your mum is already closing down very slowly and yes, eventually she will refuse food because her body will have shut down so much that it can no longer process it. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how long this will take.