As Dementia Progresses, So Should Your Loved One’s Care

Living with dementia with two trees in the shape of a human head and brain as a symbol of the stress and effects on loved ones and caregivers by the loss of memory and cognitive intelligence function.When your loved one begins showing signs of dementia, you want them to receive the best care possible. That is why many families opt for in-home caregiving for their loved ones. However, the type of in-home caregiving your loved one requires will be different at every stage of dementia.

Dementia is an umbrella term for any disease that causes someone to lose cognitive functions or their ability to remember things, and it presents itself differently in every person. It is a gradual disease, with common symptoms present at each stage. Here is some insight into what your loved one’s dementia progression may look like, as well as what type of in-home care can benefit your loved one during each phase.

Stage 1: Mild Cognitive Impairment

This is when you might first start noticing that your loved one is developing a form of dementia. They might lose things more often than they have in the past, or they will forget things that were once easy for them to remember. Your loved one may also begin to have a hard time coming up with the correct words to effectively communicate their thoughts.

How a Caregiver Helps at This Stage

In this stage of dementia, a caregiver can be used on a part-time basis. Your loved one should still be capable of basic daily tasks, like showering and cooking, but they could use help with remembering to take their medicine or getting to their doctor appointments, and they may benefit from the companionship of someone who can be with them when you are at work.

Stage 2: Mild Dementia

woman working a puzzle with dementia patientAs dementia progresses, the cognitive functions and memory of your loved one continues to decline. They might begin to forget where they put something even if they had it recently. In mild dementia, your loved one will begin to lose their memories of recent activities you did together, and you will probably begin to notice that their personality is starting to change. They will have a harder time communicating their thoughts, which can cause them to become more withdrawn and keep to themselves. At this stage, it is also challenging for your loved one to continue to manage their own finances or solve complex issues that arise.

How a Caregiver Helps at This Stage

Even though your loved one will still be able to function independently during mild dementia, some daily tasks will become too challenging. An in-home caregiver can assist with simple tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, and reminding your loved one about important events or medication schedules. Companionship is also increasingly important at this stage so that your loved one does not feel isolated when their communication becomes challenging.

Stage 3: Moderate Dementia

happy family. portrait of elderly woman and adult daughter happily looking at camera. senior woman with their caregiver at home.

By the time your loved one is in moderate dementia, they will have a hard time completing daily activities that were once easy. Their decision-making capabilities will begin to dwindle, and they may become confused. With moderate dementia, memory is continuing to decline, and your loved one will begin forgetting more distant events, and they may have lapses of remembering who you are. Their personality may begin to drastically change at this point, and they might get agitated easily. Your loved one could also have a hard time sleeping.

How a Caregiver Helps at This Stage

In moderate dementia, your loved one will require care much more often. They will need help bathing, getting dressed, and brushing teeth. Additionally, the expertise of a caregiver will be helpful in dealing with the personality changes your loved ones will be experiencing. Compassion and discretion are vital in moderate dementia, and a professional can help you and your family learn to navigate this new side of your loved one. Since your loved one will require much more care at this stage, a caregiver can take some of the worries off of you and your family so that you can focus on enjoying your time with your loved one.

Stage 4: Severe Dementia

senior woman with dementia looking confused

In the final stage of dementia, your loved one can no longer live independently. Their mental capacity has declined and your loved one will probably not be able to tell you who anyone is—they might not even know who they are. If your loved one can communicate at all in this stage of dementia, it will very sporadic and minimal. Physical capabilities are also almost gone. Your loved one could have trouble with everything from walking to sitting to even holding their head up. Eventually, they may not be able to control their bowels or bladder. This stage of dementia is also worrisome because your loved one is much more susceptible to infections, so cleanliness is of the utmost importance.

How a Caregiver Helps at This Stage

Once severe dementia has been reached, an in-home caregiver is no longer optional. Your loved one requires around-the-clock help to perform everything from eating to using the restroom to simply getting around the home. With a caregiver, your loved one will still get to stay in the comfort of their own environment instead of needing to go to a nursing home, yet you can rest easy knowing they will be receiving the attentive care they require. Additionally, a caregiver can make sure your loved one’s hygiene is maintained, they receive proper nutrition and on-time medications, and that the house is kept clean. A caregiver can also provide companionship, which is crucial at this stage so that your loved one does not experience depression.

When your loved one has dementia, it can be a trying time for your whole family. However, with the assistance of an in-home caregiver, you can release some of the concern knowing your loved one is in good hands. A skilled caregiver will help you and your family navigate every stage of dementia so that you can all focus on enjoying the time spent with your loved one instead of worrying about their care. Choosing to hire an in-home caregiver can be a challenging decision for loved ones to make, but your family and your loved one can benefit greatly from the experience and compassion they provide.

Author Bio

Located in Stamford, Connecticut, Fairfield Family Care specializes in compassionate in-home care for those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. They strive to always treat those dealing with the conditions with the utmost level of discretion while helping them maintain as much of their independence as possible. From housekeeping and companionship to personal grooming and in-home health care services, Fairfield Family Care can help family members take care of their aging loved one no matter what stage of dementia they are in.

Editors Note:  This article was written and contributed by the folks at Fairfield Family Care. I received no compensation for this article.

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