How long will it take for her to die in her condition?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother has Alzheimer's and is the latest stage. She's been on hospice care for two weeks now and does show many of the symptoms listed in the article "10 Signs Death is Near." Like another person's comment related to that article, my mom looks very bad one day and then rebounds. She eats very little if at all, and seems to be surviving on nutritional drinks and occasionally small bites of soft foods. Her extremities are cold and intermittently discolored. She has dark circles around her eyes. Her weight loss is substantial as is the muscle wasting and weakness. My question is "how long does this process take?" I know there is no definitive answer, but is it common for this to go on for weeks or even months?

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

When a person dies is sometimes not easy to determine until they are actively dying. Their is no way to predict exactly when someone will die. Your hospice nurse can usually tell when it will be a matter of hours. Rather than focus on her death, spend time celebrating her life. Talk to her even though she seems not to respond. let her know that you will miss her but you will have many happy memories to keep in your heart. Massage her hands, arms and feet if that seem to bring pleasure to her. Play music she enjoyed in the past, read something you think she will enjoy or that will help you let her go. My prayers are with you. Joyce Simard