The stages of dementia can be categorized as mild, moderate, and severe, however, this is mainly to provide a general idea of how abilities change and symptoms may progress over time. Although experiences within these stages can overlap, we provide the breakdown of symptoms at each stage and some tips for helping caregivers cope with these changes.
During the early stage of dementia, a person is still able to function independently and drive, work, or take part in social activities. As symptoms progress, an individual may begin to experience difficulties managing finances and traveling alone to new locations. As these symptoms begin to surface, it can be difficult to know how to behave around those with dementia, but know that there are resources and support communities to help you!
Most diagnoses occur at this stage because physicians are better able to detect cognitive changes and anomalies that point to dementia. Some common challenges that a loved one with might face at this point include:
- Difficulty remembering names when introduced to new people
- Decreased work performance
- Forgetting familiar words
- Misplacing everyday objects
- Difficulty planning and organizing
- Lapses in memory and difficulty concentrating
The moderate stage of dementia can be the longest stage and can last many years for some. As the disease progresses, symptoms can become more pronounced and the person will require a greater level of care. At this point, there are ways you can support a parent or loved one when you begin to notice some of the signs of cognitive decline.
Dementia can cause nerve damage to a patient’s brain, to the point where an individual might experience confusion with words, mood swings, or act in an unanticipated way, like refusing to bathe. People within this stage can also experience memory deficiencies and may need help with activities such as dressing, bathing, and preparing meals.
Memory loss can become more prominent in this stage, with more severe symptoms including forgetting names of friends and family, incontinence, and finishing tasks. A person may also encounter personality and emotional changes, increased anxiety, and higher levels of agitation.
Changes in sleep patterns and the increased risk of wandering and becoming lost may put a higher demand on family members to increase the care level of their loved one.
In the final stage of dementia, patients may experience more severe symptoms, particularly, losing their ability to speak, communicate with others, and often psychomotor skills that control movement.
As dementia progresses, the level of care a loved one will need will also increase. At this stage, individuals may:
- Require 24/7 assistance with daily activities and personal care
- Lose awareness of recent experiences and surroundings
- Experience changes in physical abilities including walking, sitting, and swallowing
- Have difficulty communicating
- Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia
At Riley Crossing, we understand what it’s like to cope with the challenges that can arise from a loved one being diagnosed with dementia. If you’re looking for additional support, or think that your loved one could benefit from our memory care services, give our compassionate staff a call at (952) 934-7777 to learn more about becoming a part of our family today.