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Changing Symptoms

People with AIDS seem to get very sick, then get better, then get very sick, then better, and so on. Sometimes they get sicker and sicker. You can't always tell if they are going to live through a particular illness or not. These times are very rough on everyone involved. If you know what to expect, you can deal with these rough times better.


Dementia (having trouble thinking) can be a problem for a person with AIDS. AIDS can affect the brain and cause poor memory; short attention span; trouble moving, speaking, or thinking; less alertness; loss of interest in things; and wide mood swings. These problems can upset the person with AIDS as well as the people around them. Mental problems can make it hard to follow the planned routines for care and make it difficult to protect the person with AIDS from infections. Be prepared to recognize these problems, understand what is happening, and talk to the doctor, nurse, social worker, or mental health worker about what to do.

If the person you are caring for does develop mental problems, you can help:

As AIDS Progresses

Here are some of the things to expect as AIDS enters its final stages and ways to try to cope. Like other people nearing death, a person with AIDS who is near death:

Hospice Care

Many people have found hospice care (programs for people who are dying and their caregivers) for adults and children a big help. Others feel that hospice care isn't right for them. Hospice services can help caregivers, family, and other loved ones, as well as help the dying person deal with the concerns and fears that may come near the end of their life. You should be able to find hospice organizations listed in your local phone book.

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. It is a part of the publication Caring for Someone With AIDS at Home. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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