Taking on the role of caregiver for your loved one suffering from memory loss or Alzheimer’s is not easy. You are often greatly challenged emotionally as you face the irreversible changes your loved one is experiencing. Yet, you have to be strong and help your loved one through each progressive stage of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
That is why it is helpful to understand the different stages and indicators of increasing mental and physical difficulties. These separate stages will guide you through your best care options to accommodate your loved ones changing needs and abilities.
You will also benefit by understanding what to expect and trying as best as possible to make adjustments for your own mental and emotional wellbeing.
Stage One: Early – Mild Dementia Symptoms
During this stage of mental decline, most individuals are still able to function independently. However, some assistance may be necessary to ensure safety and help with certain activities.
Signs to watch for:
- Difficulty remembering or using the correct word or names for things
- Struggling with social or work related duties that weren’t a challenge before
- Not remembering information soon after reading or hearing it
- Losing important paperwork or valuable items not usually misplaced or forgotten
- Feeling easily overwhelmed with planning or organizing uncomplicated tasks
Helpful tips for stage one:
Patience is key – To best assist your loved one, remain patient when these early signs appear.
Support healthy habits – Try to encourage good quality nutrition, physical exercise, memory strengthening games, and social interactions.
Be proactive – Take a proactive approach towards slowing down the progression of dementia. This will help delay stages two and three as much as possible.
Stage Two: Moderate Dementia Symptoms
The moderate stage of dementia, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss is commonly known as the longest of the three stages. Individuals experiencing moderate symptoms have more obvious trouble communicating and undergoing routine habits and activities. Their daily lives are negatively affected, often impacting their personality and overall well-being.
Signs to watch for:
- Forgetting significant events in one’s life
- Personality changes, becoming moody when challenged with social interactions
- Feeling confused easily and often
- Not able to recall one’s address, phone number, social security number, etc.
- Difficulty sleeping or abnormal sleeping patterns
- Unable to dress properly for the outdoor weather conditions
- Tendency to wander and become lost easily
Helpful tips for stage two:
Encourage a sense of self – Help your loved one retain their sense of self and individuality as much as possible.
Support a predictable routine – Establish a strong, reliable daily routine and structure to follow. This predictability is important to reduce confusion and frustration when routines are disorganized and unpredictable.
Communicate effectively – Concentrate on communicating effectively, by actively listening and choosing the best words or actions to use. Try to ensure each interaction uses meaningful communication.
Stage Three: Severe Alzheimer’s Symptoms
During the late stage of dementia, symptoms are more exaggerated. This stage proves to be the most difficult for the individual, loved ones and caregivers to experience and effectively manage.
Speaking words and phrases becomes significantly harder. Memory and cognitive function worsens, causing more personality changes as depression and frustration increase for the person suffering from severe dementia.
Signs to watch for:
- Severe communication difficulty
- Easily prone to infections, including pneumonia
- Trouble walking, sitting, swallowing
- Loss of personal awareness including recent experiences and surroundings
- Personal care requires 24-hour availability
Helpful tips for stage three:
Non-verbal cues — Develop non-verbal communication skills with your loved one. Focus on their remaining abilities and provide positive feedback for what they are still capable of doing. This stage is more physically demanding as care becomes less reliant on verbal communication and understanding as in earlier stages.
Focus on providing holistic, person-centered care – It’s important at this later stage to encourage and incorporate activities that support the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your loved one. A holistic approach to caregiving takes these key areas into consideration. All are important, helping them as well as yourself remain lovingly connected.
Facing the reality of losing your loved one to Alzheimer’s or memory loss is often a tragic experience for everyone. However, there are care options available to assist you in the process.
South Coast Post Acute is Southern California’s Premier post-acute Partner
Better health and healing are possible with the right professional oversight and daily nutrition. At South Coast Post Acute, we deliver the services needed to restore health, regain autonomy and reduce the occurrences of rehospitalization.
South Coast Post Acute is here for you, at any age. Our innovative care, experienced staff, and welcoming accommodations combine to bring you the high level of care you’ve come to expect from Southern California’s leading post-acute provider.
Contact us today for more information on how we can help on your journey back to restored health.