Understanding the behaviours associated with dementia sufferers (and how to deal with them) begins with understanding the disease itself. Although different sources may suggest that dementia evolves through a varied number of stages, they all share a clear pattern of progression.
Here’s how you can navigate the development of the disease and the necessary care for a loved one with dementia.
Most commonly, someone with mild dementia continues to function independently and may simply seem forgetful. Perhaps this individual has begun losing their train of thought mid-sentence or maybe they can’t seem to remember where they left their car keys. Although these symptoms may not seem abnormal at first, mild dementia is also associated with having concentration issues, being overwhelmed when making simple decisions, or forgetting important dates or events.
When interacting with an individual who is suffering from a mild stage of dementia, it’s best to simply be patient with them. Offer to help them with important tasks, such as balancing a checkbook or reminding them to take their medications to alleviate some of their stress.
When moderate dementia sets in, it becomes very evident to the individual’s friends and family. The memory loss is more severe, and dementia sufferers begin to forget how to do ordinary tasks that they were very familiar with previously. Perhaps more significantly, the person’s behaviour changes and they may become less social, more suspicious, and increasingly agitated.
It will become more important for you to offer them extra assistance with day-to-day care, like laundry, cooking, and grooming.
This final stage of dementia is perhaps the most devastating for most families. At this point, an individual with dementia will have lost their ability to communicate clearly and to control their own movements. They frequently have trouble with mobility, with eating and swallowing, and with bowel and bladder function.
When the disease progresses to this stage, the individual will require nearly constant or consistent supervision and aid in fulfilling basic needs. Additional assistance is frequently recommended, but you can continue to show love and care by looking at family photo albums with them or singing along to their favourite song.
As dementia advances, so too must the assistance and care provided. If you need additional support in doing so, call the dedicated team at Dementia Caring at 1300 792 691. We work tirelessly to help you ensure your loved one can enjoy a complete and fulfilling life.