Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of disorders that involve cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but many other types also exist. Dementia symptoms often get worse over time, and this can pose major challenges for patients, family members, and caregivers. In order to support someone with dementia, it is important to understand what might happen as their condition progresses. This will allow you to provide them with the best care and help maintain their dignity while also minimizing your own stress. This is what you need to know.
Dementia affects every person differently. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the wide range of possible symptoms that could affect your loved one. This way, it will be easier for you to recognize potential problems before they progress to a more advanced stage.
When your loved one is first diagnosed with dementia, their symptoms may not be obvious, and they might only display one or two of the following indicators:
- Abnormal memory problems
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Trouble performing routine tasks
- Communication problems
- Confusion or disorientation
At this early stage, many people can still live independently with some support. However, it is important to stay involved in their life by calling or visiting them often and making sure that they receive any assistance that they need with everyday tasks.
Middle-stage dementia is usually the longest and can last for many years. During this stage, the symptoms grow more intense and restricting. People at this stage will often need assistance with things like getting dressed, bathing, going to the bathroom, and eating. They might also wander off, grow suspicious of those around them, have delusions, and become increasingly more agitated. By this point, dedicated dementia care for middle stage dementia is almost always necessary. Although you might not want to move your loved one to a residential care setting, it is important to be honest with yourself about how much you can take on as a carer. Living with someone with dementia can be extremely difficult and can take a toll on your mental health as well as your finances.
At this stage, people may lose the ability to move, speak, swallow, breathe and control their bowels and bladder. During this stage, your loved one will need 24/7 care as they will be totally dependent on their caregiver. Therefore, you will usually not be able to care for them at home, even with assistance. However, there are ways you can help to improve your loved one’s quality of life at this stage. For example, sitting outside with them, spending time with them, or playing their favorite music are all great ways to help them maintain their dignity.
Taking Care of Yourself
Dementia is challenging for everyone involved, but support is available. So, throughout all stages of dementia, it is important to take care of yourself as a carer. Take some time to look through the free resources on offer for dementia caregivers.