Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging. If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to know what to expect as the condition progresses.
If you are caring for a loved one in or around Columbia, SC, let Caring Healthcare help with your care needs. We offer a variety of services including in-home senior care, respite care, in-home medical care, and more.
At this time, there is no cure for dementia, including when its caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions are neurodegenerative, and the progression cannot be reversed. However, there are treatment options and lifestyle choices that can manage the symptoms.
In this article, we’ll explain how this condition progresses and what you can expect with each stage.
4 Stages of Dementia
There are four stages you should be aware of when your loved one is diagnosed with dementia.
Stage 1: Early Stage
The early stage is also known as “mild Alzheimer’s”. This stage includes anyone with mild impairment. However, this is different from early onset or young onset Alzheimer’s, which includes those who were diagnosed at a younger age.
Most people are unaware that they have the condition at this point and are usually not diagnosed until they are beyond it. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty learning
- Difficulty following conversations
- Reduced attention span
- Changes in mood
- Coordination difficulties
In most cases, those in this stage don’t need much help. They usually understand what is happening and can talk about what is going on. In addition, they may want to make plans for their future care.
Stage 2: Middle Stage
This stage is known as moderate Alzheimer’s disease. While most people are still aware of their condition, thinking and memory are continuing to deteriorate. Individuals in this stage usually need help with daily tasks- but it’s important to highlight their remaining abilities. They will continue to experience emotion but may not be able to express them.
At this point, caregivers may:
- See an increase in their own involvement
- Consider long-term care options
- Look into community programs/services such as respite care, adult day care, and others
- Speak with a physician about treatment options
- Pay attention to other daily health issues including dental needs, regular medications, and more
Stage 3: Late Stage
This stage is also referred to as severe or advanced Alzheimer’s. Nonverbal communication is important in this stage because individuals are unable to communicate and care for themselves. During this stage, your loved one diagnosed with dementia will experience the following:
- Extreme memory impairment
- Difficulty processing new information or recognizing times and places
- Inability to verbally communicate
- Inability to use the bathroom, walk or eat without assistance
Typically, 24-hour care is required by this stage and it’s critical to continue to support your loved one to ensure their quality of life.
Stage 4: End-of-Life
During this stage, your loved one will experience an increase in physical and mental deterioration and will require 24-hour care, if not already in place. As they progress, palliative care and comfort become critical. Make sure to respect and tend to their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs to ensure their comfort in this most challenging stage.
Take Care of Yourself
As the condition progresses, it gets more challenging to care for a loved one diagnosed with dementia. They become more and more dependent on you. However, it’s important to understand that you also need support. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
- Keep up with social activities
- Remain in contact with others as much as possible
- Pay attention to signs of stress and how it impacts your health and caregiving abilities
- Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health
- Seek help if you start feeling depressed or anxious
- Be flexible
- Try to remain positive
You should also consider care options, such as hiring an in-home caregiver from Caring Healthcare. Our friendly staff has the training, as well as the experience and expertise, to care for patients who have been diagnosed with dementia. We can help with respite care, in-home care, in-home medical care, and more.