It’s not uncommon for people to joke about someone suffering from dementia when they can’t find their keys or the TV remote. Unfortunately, it is estimated that over five million people have now been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is forecast to triple by the year 2025. That doesn’t even include all of the people with dementia.
Although dementia is not a foregone conclusion, it is more prevalent with advanced age. An estimated 24% of adults age 80-89 suffering from some type of dementia. This, in turn, affects family members, who must first recognize the signs of dementia and then increasingly care for loved ones suffering from this progressive disease.
How can you tell if your elderly loved one is suffering from dementia or just absentmindedness related to normal aging? What can you expect if your loved one does suffer with some form of dementia and you’re trying to decide between round-the-clock care in a facility or at home instead of senior care? Here are a few things you need to know about the stages of dementia.
Types of Dementia
It’s not uncommon for people to conflate dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, probably because it has become the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 60-80% of dementia patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is also a very serious and fatal form of dementia. However, it is not the only form in which this disease can be found.
Other forms include dementia with Lewy bodies, which results in memory loss and confusion; vascular dementia, which is caused by blocked blood vessels; frontotemporal dementia that changes behavior and personality; mixed dementia, which is a combination of more than one form; and in some cases, Parkinson’s diseases, which may produce dementia at some point.
Mild Cognitive Decline
There are several stages of cognitive decline that may occur as a result of progressive dementia. If you decide to care for loved ones at home Birmingham AL to Bigfork MT, you need to understand exactly what is ahead. The stages of dementia actually begin with no dementia, but rather forgetfulness, lack of focus or concentration, and perhaps some trouble finding the right words when speaking.
This is not necessarily considered dementia and in many cases can be written off as a normal sign of aging. When the signs and symptoms move into mild cognitive decline, however, the onset of dementia could occur within just a few years.
Moderate Cognitive Decline
Early stage dementia is categorized as moderate cognitive decline, which includes worsening memory loss such as trouble remembering recent events. Moderate cognitive decline could also include difficulty accomplishing tasks and finding new places.
Many people in this stage of dementia are in denial about their symptoms, and they may pull back from loved ones if they feel hounded or criticized for their memory loss or a muddled state. If you notice these symptoms in a loved one, it’s best to get the condition diagnosed before it gets worse. In a fairly short amount of time, say a couple of years, your loved one could require assistance by home care associates of some kind for the purposes of safety.
Severe Cognitive Decline
Mid- and late-stage dementia symptoms can lapse from moderately severe, to severe, to very severe cognitive decline within a matter of just a few years as symptoms progressively worsen. This is the time when you will have to determine whether you are always there in home care for your loved one or if you need help caring for a dementia patient.
As loved ones enter the stages of severe cognitive decline, memory loss will become more pronounced and they may need help with normal activities like bathing, dressing, and feeding themselves. Over time they will forget important memories, including the names of loved ones and major life events.
Linguistic abilities will start to wane and they may believe things that aren’t true. Eventually, they will cease to communicate and require round-the-clock care. They may not be able to walk, use the bathroom, or feed themselves. At this stage, it is only a matter of time before the disease is fatal.
Of course, different types of dementia may progress faster or slower, or sometimes with slightly different symptoms. If you’re coping with dementia in an elderly loved one, do not hesitate to seek professional advice and assistance in providing proper home or other care.