A diagnosis of dementia for your senior loved one comes with heartbreak and grief. As a result, it is helpful to gain an understanding of the progression of dementia. This allows you to take the perspective of focusing on what your loved one can do, rather than thinking solely about what has been lost.
The stages of dementia are relatively predictable, with patients generally progressing at different rates, but through similarly patterned ability levels. Here’s what you can expect at each stage of dementia:
High-Early Stage: At the high-early stage of dementia, your loved one will experience difficulty with what’s called instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) which includes the ability to drive, cook, manage their medications and take care of their home and finances. This is the stage in which your loved one can be monitored from a distance. Calling or stopping by once a day is recommended to ensure safety and you may also need to commit additional time to managing a number of areas, like paying bills or grocery shopping.
Low-Early Stage: The low-early stage is characterized by the loss of more basic IADLs, such as dressing and showering. Once your loved one has reached this stage, they will need more monitoring and care.
The key to assisting a loved one in low-early stage is tapping into their long-term memory. For instance, your loved one may not know that it’s time to get dressed when they get up in the morning, but if their clothes are set out and they are directed to go get dressed, they can often put together the steps to get themselves dressed safely.
Middle or Moderate Stage: At this stage, your loved one is no longer able to work through a sequenced set of activities, like getting dressed or shaving, without assistance. You may be able to help them retrieve the steps by reminding them of an associated part of the task. For instance, smelling a favorite brand of toothpaste may help your loved one trigger the part of their brain that helps them remember the steps to brushing their teeth.
Late Stage: Once your loved one has reached late stage dementia, they will experience serious impairment with walking, speech and fine motor tasks. However, they are still able to communicate with you through facial expressions and other signals.
Your loved one is no longer able to dress themselves or brush their own teeth, but you can still help them be an active participant in their care. They can pick up their foot to help put pants on or they can point their foot in a way that makes it easy to put on a sock.
End Stage: When your loved one is in end stage dementia, they are generally mute and bedridden, but it is important to continue to treat them with love and care. You can help them engage their senses by sharing sights, sounds and textures that will bring them pleasure, and you can make sure they feel warm and loved.
Freudenthal Home Health is a reliable resource for Family Caregivers that would like more information about the stages of dementia and we can provide care services to assist your senior loved one in their daily tasks. If you would like to know more about dementia and how to help your senior loved one or would like information about our home health services, call us today at 816-676-8050 and talk to Shelbe King who would be more than happy to answer all your questions.