If you have a loved one who has dementia, what can you expect as the disease progresses? The stages below can give you some idea. Each individual’s experience is a little different, but this outline can give you a sense of what the future holds.
During Stage One, no symptoms are present. Even a doctor would not be able to immediately tell that the person has dementia, and the person themselves doesn’t notice anything wrong.
Stage Two brings some mild changes in cognition. During this stage, it’s hard to tell whether memory problems are the beginnings of dementia or just changes that take place with normal aging. The person will forget words and names and also lose things.
Now other people besides the senior begin to notice that there’s a problem. The person will lose valuable objects, forget what they’ve just been told, and start to have trouble at work or in their social life. They may get lost on the way to a familiar place.
At this point, it’s time for medical attention. The person becomes more and more forgetful, even to the point of forgetting parts of their life story and people they know. More difficult mental math problems are now out of reach, and their ability to concentrate decreases. Their personality also begins to change as they withdraw from others and are moody.
In Stage Five, others will clearly be able to determine that a person has dementia, and the individual will start to depend on caregivers for help. They’ll forget information that they need from day to day, like the names of family members. The person might dress inappropriately and be confused about what happened when.
Caregivers and other loved ones will find this stage to be the most challenging. Some patients will have trouble sleeping or will wander. They are also likely to need help using the bathroom or getting dressed. They’ll experience delusions, become anxious and obsessive, and forget even information as important as the name of their spouse.
Finally, the senior will need help even with very basic tasks. They’ll have great difficulty speaking and expressing their emotions. They’ll also need assistance almost constantly, to do even simple tasks like eating. Walking may be impossible.
It’s not easy to watch a loved one decline, but knowing what to expect can make it a little bit easier. Our articles for caregivers can provide you with ideas for how to make this time happier and more comfortable for your senior, as well as how to best take care of yourself.