There are over 55 million people living with dementia worldwide, with 10 million new cases each year. Although this is a bleak figure, it should reassure you that there is plenty of support out there and a large community of people going through the same challenge.
Naturally, we want to do everything possible to ensure our loved one is comfortable and able to handle the condition well. To do so, however, it’s essential to understand the different stages of dementia and which measures are appropriate at each step.
The majority of people living with this condition experience symptoms between 30 to 60 years old. It’s not as common, with only 5 to 6% of people with Alzheimer’s developing symptoms before 65. The most common form of dementia at this stage is sporadic Alzheimer’s. This condition isn’t genetic and there is no apparent scientific reason for developing at a younger age.
As the disease isn’t as common, it can be a long and challenging process to get an accurate diagnosis. This can take a mental toll on the entire family, so seek support if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Symptoms that affect people with early-stage dementia include:
- Memory difficulties: An older loved one might start forgetting recent events or misplacing items regularly. It’s a typical symptom in the early-stages, except for frontotemporal dementia. In this type, the most common symptom is a change in personality and behaviour.
- Communication: Your loved one might start finding it difficult to communicate as they did before, or they might struggle to follow conversations. This can also include a reduced capability to concentrate.
- Orientation problems: An increase in confusion is another typical symptom. Your loved one might start forgetting places or where they are. They might also think they’re in a previous period of their life.
How to help someone with early dementia
As a caregiver or relative of someone that’s been diagnosed with dementia, there are some factors to take into account. For instance:
- Look for information and support: Start learning more about Alzherimer’s disease and dementia, and take advantage of online resources and support
- Identify risks: Is there anything that poses a danger to your loved one?
- Minimize stress: Ensure they avoid facing stressful tasks or situations.
- Let them complete tasks: Don’t assume straightaway that they aren’t capable of completing tasks independently. This might lead to frustration and mood swings.
- Keep track of tasks: If they start missing appointments or mishandling money, lend a helping hand.
- Encourage physical activity: Ensure they get enough exercise.
- Create a routine: Implementing a routine is the best way to ensure they can do certain things when dementia enters later stages.
- Start planning for in-home care assistance: Get in touch with a local in-home eldercare service provider who specializes in Alzherimer’s disease and dementia care to get your loved one on a care routine
In most cases, middle-stage dementia lasts the longest. At this stage, your loved one will require a more significant deal of care. The symptoms become more noticeable, and you’ll find yourself prompting more reminders than usual.
You and a healthcare professional must discuss the level of care your older loved one requires since professional paid care might be more appropriate to their situation. Although everyone’s dementia journey is different, here’s an overview of how the symptoms will change at this stage:
- Memory loss: The decline in memory loss will be considerably worse than in the early stages. However, your loved one won’t be as aware of it. They’ll also experience a decline in long-term memory, while the ability to make appropriate decisions is also affected.
- Language and communication worsen: Mid-stage dementia will further decrease your loved one’s communication capabilities, as they’ll start to forget things mid-sentence and find it challenging to stay engaged in conversations.
- Reduced interaction and altered perceptions: You might find that your loved one is quiet or removed from social interactions. They might also start feeling anxious about unfamiliar surroundings and become paranoid. It’s crucial to remember that their accusations result from the disease, so you shouldn’t take it personally.
Taking care of someone with middle-stage dementia
Like with early-stage dementia, you should avoid situations that might cause them anxiety and implement a routine that they can follow. As previously mentioned, you should also consider professional care to ensure their safety. It might be scary to delegate your loved one’s care to someone else, but remember that their well-being is most important.
This is the most complex and challenging stage of living with dementia. Your loved one will need full-time care to handle the condition, as they’ll be frail and unable to conduct everyday tasks independently. Unless proper care can be given at home, it’s a good idea to seek professional in-home care so your loved one can be monitored 24/7.
In some cases, people with dementia detail what they want for their late-stage care, which you should try and accommodate. An eldercare professional will help you identify the best possible care for their condition. Here are some ways the disease will affect your loved one at this stage:
- Memory difficulties: Your loved one will start experiencing severe memory loss during the later stages. They can forget familiar faces and places and start remembering earlier times in their lives. This makes it difficult if they ask for someone that is no longer alive.
- Language: People with dementia at this stage might lose the ability to talk, or their communication capabilities might be reduced to a couple of words. They might also only be able to communicate through gestures or expressions.
- Mood and emotions: Some of the most common symptoms at this stage are delusions and hallucinations. Their perception of reality might be altered, making it difficult to communicate and undertake everyday tasks. They may also grow to be aggressive towards caregivers, which is why it’s essential to assess their living situation.
How to care for someone with late-stage dementia
This is a stage of the disease that can be upsetting to witness and difficult to handle. It’s essential to consider the care you can give your loved one and whether it’s sufficient to ensure their comfort. Professionals will do their best to reduce pain and give your loved one dignified living conditions.
At this point, it’s especially critical for you to practice self-care, especially if you’re directly involved with caring for your loved one. Dementia care is hard work that can take you away from proper nutrition, rest, and the people and activities you enjoy the most. Be sure to take time for yourself and seek out assistance when you need it.
In-home eldercare in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
It’s important to remember that you must also practice self-care as a caregiver. Seeing a loved one go through the different dementia stages can be upsetting and challenging to accept.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to help, give CareHop a call. Our team specializes in at-home Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care, as well as services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, and activities and casual companionship that will bring peace of mind to your family.
Our goal is to bring joy and sunshine into your loved one’s home and ensure that they are happy, thriving, and cared for at all times.
For more information about our eldercare services, please feel free to contact us anytime. We’d love to discuss how our approach to quality elder care can support your loved one and family.