It can be incredibly upsetting when someone you love begins to show signs of dementia. They may start to become forgetful, and you might wonder how quickly the condition will deteriorate and what type of care your loved one will need as they become less able to take care of themselves. There are four main stages of dementia. Here is an outline of them all so that you know what to expect and to offer your loved one the best support possible.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Many people suffer from mild cognitive impairment as they get older. It might be that your loved one has trouble remembering names or faces or struggles to find the word they want to use in a sentence. It is estimated that up to 20% of people over the age of 60 have some form of mild cognitive impairment. However, this does not necessarily mean that your loved one will go on to develop full-blown dementia so there is no need for immediate panic. You may want to start paying closer attention to your loved one at this point to monitor whether further symptoms develop.
Mild dementia is characterized by greater memory loss. Your loved one may find it more difficult to cope with complex tasks and could begin to misplace personal items. Your loved one may still be able to function well and live independently but this is a suitable time to get them checked out by a medical professional. It can be a good idea to accompany them to this appointment. You may have your own questions such as what stage of dementia is my mother in or what is the most suitable plan for her long-term care needs? A medical practitioner will be best placed to give advice.
Your loved one’s condition will worsen over time. You may notice that your loved one is showing signs of moderate dementia if they become increasingly confused and begin to suffer from greater memory loss. At this point, they may need help with day-to-day activities such as washing, dressing, or grooming. There is no set period in which they will degenerate. This depends on factors such as their age at onset, their general health, and how effective their medication is.
If your loved one is suffering from severe dementia you will notice a significant decline in their memory and their behavior may become increasingly different. For example, a previously fastidious sufferer may become a lot less concerned with their appearance or personal hygiene as they become less able to take care of themselves. It is important to notice these signs as a person with this condition may find it difficult to communicate effectively. They are unlikely to be able to manage independently so moving them to a long-term dementia care facility could be in their best interests.
There is no cure for dementia, but early diagnosis and support will help tremendously. If your loved one is beginning to show signs of dementia, then speak to their medical practitioner and consider making plans for their future as soon as possible.