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Reducing the Risk for Infection and Illness in Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

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Updated May 23, 2008

Photo © Microsoft
Photo © Microsoft
When people in late-stage Alzheimer's disease become chair-bound or bed-bound, their immune systems weaken, making them more vulnerable to illness. To reduce your loved one's risk for infections and other illnesses in late-stage Alzheimer's, take the following precautions:

  • Provide immediate treatment to cuts and scrapes. Basic first aid can go a long way toward preventing infections in those with late-stage Alzheimer's disease.

  • Practice consistent oral hygiene. Those with good oral health have a reduced risk of developing bacteria in the mouth that can cause infection. Regular tooth brushing or denture cleaning is essential. It also helps to clean the soft tissues of the mouth using moistened gauze pads or a soft toothbrush in order to prevent inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).

  • Vaccinate when appropriate. Unless your loved one has allergies that make vaccinations risky, be sure that he has a flu shot every year. A pneumonia vaccine is also available and should be given every five years.

Sources:

Alzheimer's Association (2005). Late-stage care: Providing care and comfort during the late stage of Alzheimer's disease. Chicago, IL: Author.

National Institutes of Health (2008). End of life: Helping with comfort and care (NIH Publication No. 08-6036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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