Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely demanding, both physically and emotionally. As your loved one’s condition worsens, you will be forced to adjust to the role of a caregiver for a loved one who once cared for you as a parent or spouse. Although this is a difficult transition and realization, many caregivers find it very rewarding to care for and serve their loved one in this capacity.
Early, Mid and Late Stage Dementia Symptoms
Early on in your loved one’s dementia care, some of the most noticeable dementia symptoms may be:
- Difficulty communicating
- Memory loss
- Sudden mood changes.
These symptoms may worsen as dementia progresses. During mid-stage dementia, other symptoms become evident. These may include:
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Disorientation and confusion (often resulting in anxiety)
- Disturbing behavior (i.e., aggression, hiding possessions and restlessness)
- Loss of interest in social events and other activities that once brought pleasure
- Poor judgment
During the final stages of dementia, your loved one loses his ability to respond to you and other stimuli in his environment. He can no longer communicate with recognizable phrases. Gradually, he loses control over his movements and eventually loses the ability to walk, sit, smile and swallow. At this stage, the goal of dementia care and treatment is simply to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
Making a Care Plan for Dementia
Eventually, the daily care-giving demands often become too much for the family caregiver to handle. Caregiver exhaustion and depression are two common reasons that caregivers place their loved ones in nursing homes.
Consider formulating a realistic care plan for dementia as early as possible after your loved one’s diagnosis. Seek the input and support of other family members, and talk to your loved one about her wishes for her present and future dementia care.
Alzheimer Foundation of America. (2010). About Alzheimer’s — symptoms.Retrieved January 10, 2011, from http://www.alzfdn.org/AboutAlzheimers/symptoms.html
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Dementia — Symptoms.Retrieved January 10, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dementia/DS01131/DSECTION=symptoms
U.S. National Institutes of Health — National Institute on Aging. (2011). Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease: Your easy-to-use guide from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/CaringAD/