In many ways, Alzheimer’s or the other types of dementia are a terrifying way for a life to end, at least, when on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon and is not only the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the only cause in the top 10 that cannot be prevented or slowed down. It is certainly one of the hardest ailments for a family member to care for adequately, usually necessitating a transfer of the senior into the care of a dementia long-term care facility, which is usually best for all those involved. Such a care facility has activities for Alzheimer residents and treatment options for Alzheimer’s patients that a spouse or relative has no way to access. They also understand the stages of dementia and are able to offer treatment best suited to each stage. For those family members attempting to understand the changes coming to their loved one, here is an explanation of the seven stages of dementia.
- No impairment: There are no observable symptoms at this point and the individual likely still lives independently.
- Very Mild: At this point, people may observe some symptoms, but it manifests as the simple forgetfulness that most people experience aging. It is rare for dementia to be suspected at this early stage.
- Mild: Independence is still quite possible at this stage because daily routines are still within the capabilities of the individual. At this point, dementia manifests as forgetfulness, confusion in normal tasks like driving or balancing a checkbook, and the inability to maintain concentration. Again, these are all often attributed to the person simply getting older.
- Moderate: This is the stage where dementia becomes truly noticeable as dementia and not merely aging. The primary reason for this illumination is that the individual with this developing disorder can no longer perform simple tasks that used to come naturally, like calling someone on the phone or doing a load of laundry. Other symptoms can include incontinence, difficulty finding correct phrases when talking and social withdrawal.
- Moderately Severe: At this point in the dementia stages, it becomes increasingly difficult for the patient to remain in the care of a loved one, and often inadvisable. New symptoms at this stage are confusion about location or chain of events, as well as the inability to remember important personal information, like a house number. Selecting weather appropriate clothing also becomes difficult for the patient.
- Severe: At this point in the dementia stages, the person usually needs help getting dressed and going to the bathroom. They are prone to confusion and wandering, and forget the names of their nearest and dearest. Perhaps the most disturbing are potential psychological disturbances like hallucinations or paranoia manifesting here.
- Very Severe: At this, the last of the dementia stages, the patient loses their language ability and has no awareness of their surroundings. They essentially lose the ability to do anything without help or support, including sitting or chewing.
It is a horrible thing to be forced to choose between keeping a loved one at home placing them in one of the reputable dementia long term care facilities. However, Alzheimer’s care is a specialized field, and to be done to the best possible advantage while keeping the patient as safe as possible, professionals need to be the caregivers. If you suspect a loved one has dementia, call one of your local memory care facilities for the next best steps.