Understanding the Stages of Dementia
Realizing that someone you love dearly is no longer able to take care of themselves because of declining cognitive abilities can be heartbreaking. Dementia may impact your parent, grandparent, spouse, or another person who has been significant in your life. Caring for a loved one who is living with dementia comes with unique challenges, and while many wish to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible, some people discover they need extra support to manage increasing needs and ensure safety.
The Stages of Dementia
While cognitive decline can have many different causes and rates of progression, it is often helpful to discuss living with dementia in three basic stages, as defined by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Early-stage dementia is often mistaken for a natural cognitive decline due to normal aging. Some concerning behaviors you might notice include:
- Forgetting names,
- Asking the same questions repeatedly,
- Misplacing items like keys, eyeglasses, or handbags,
- Losing the flow of a conversation, or
- Abrupt changes in mood.
When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia in its early stage, many families are able to provide the extra care and support needed while the patient remains living independently or with the caregiver. Depending on your loved one’s specific challenges, you might:
- Work with your loved one to designate a single place to store important items, and assist in keeping it organized.
- Offer assistance organizing finances and schedules
- Consider developing a signal your loved one can use when they are having a hard time remembering, indicating that they desire your help.
Keep in mind how frustrating living with dementia can be to an adult who is used to feeling capable and independent. Work cooperatively with them to identify the areas they struggle with, determine the root causes, and collaborate to find solutions. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association for support and advice.
Middle or Moderate Stages
Mid-stage dementia is characterized by behaviors that put the patient at increased risk, such as:
- Wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather,
- Forgetting to turn off ovens, irons, or other appliances,
- Taking prescribed medication incorrectly,
- Leaving the house without adequate preparation and planning, and
- Decreased mobility and agility.
When dementia advances to this stage, many caregivers find they must provide increased care and supervision in order to preserve their loved one’s safety. Some families hire in-home caregivers or arrange to share living space to provide more direct care themselves. Many people consider moving their loved ones into a home care facility at this stage. Until that point, extra safety measures should be considered, such as:
- Discarding or securing hazardous substances,
- Using appliances with automatic cut-off switches or timers,
- Adjusting water heater thermostats to prevent burns,
- Removing tripping hazards, and
- Monitoring medications.
As you continue to provide support, stay focused on your loved one’s strengths and abilities, and provide encouragement. It is also advisable to make plans together now if a move to an assisted living facility becomes necessary in the future. You might want to:
- Prepare powers of attorney, both financial and medical,
- Discuss HIPPAA release paperwork to enable you to discuss their care with their physicians,
- Organize wills, deeds, insurance, and military service documents, and
- Discuss their wishes for end-of-life care.
If you have not already done so, visit the assisted living facilities in your area, so your loved one can see the grounds, meet the staff, and voice their opinions and preferences, should the need arise.
People living with late-stage dementia need a great deal of support and care, as they may have difficulty with:
- Swallowing food and medication,
- Communicating their needs,
- Mobility, and
- Coping with their emotions, stress, and anxiety.
Live-in memory care and assisted living facilities can provide the physical and emotional support your loved ones need to maximize their comfort and contentment in any stage of dementia. Providing your loved one the care of knowledgeable, compassionate personnel in a safe and supportive community can improve their quality of life, enhance their confidence and independence, and joy in their golden years.
The Lodge Lane community provides assisted living, respite care, and a secure Memory Care Neighborhood for those with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The clinical team works closely with physicians, family, and the resident to provide individualized quality care.
Each of the private apartments offers a spacious, private bath with walk-in showers equipped with grab bars and emergency call alerts. The beautifully appointed common areas and outdoor patio space act as an extension of the resident’s apartment.
Lodge Lane welcomes residents of all faiths while celebrating Jewish traditions, culture, and values.
One can truly appreciate the beauty and warmth of the community by seeing it in person. Please stop by or contact Lodge Lane at (302) 757-8100 to learn why the residents are pleased to call Lodge Lane home. Or visit our website https://www.kutzseniorliving.org.
Lodge Lane Assisted Living
1221 Lodge Lane, Wilmington, DE 19809
Phone: (302) 757-8100