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making sure that everything is swallowed before offering the next bite or drink.

Reminders to chew and/or swallow can move the process along.

Improving Bowel and Bladder Function in Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

If you notice problems or changes in bowel and bladder function, be sure to rule

out any acute medical problems – for example, fecal impaction or a urinary tract infection

  • before assuming that the problems are simply due to late-stage Alzheimer’s. To

improve bowel and bladder function, try the following strategies:

  • Eliminate caffeinated beverages. Liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some carbonated beverages tend to aggravate urinary incontinence because caffeine increases the flow of urine.

  • Reduce liquid consumption in the evening. While it is important to keep late-stage Alzheimer’s patients hydrated, try to reduce liquid consumption during the two hours before bedtime in order to reduce incidents of incontinence during the night.

  • Use protective briefs and absorbent bed pads. Briefs and pads are effective tools for handling incidents of incontinence, even when other strategies work most of the time.

  • Watch for constipation. While it is not imperative that the person has a bowel movement every day, it should be noted if the individual goes three or more days without having a bowel movement. Besides checking for fecal impaction, adding natural laxatives to the person’s diet can help (e.g., high-fiber snacks like prunes).

  • Follow a toileting schedule. Individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s should be taken to the bathroom or given a bed pan every couple of hours. Keep a written

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