Dementia is becoming more common among seniors, which can mean many life changes for them and their caregivers. However, there are several ways to make the process easier. From recognizing the different stages of dementia to learning techniques for handling specific challenges that will arise, Senior Helpers Hot Springs has some inside tips on how to help you understand your elderly loved one living with dementia.
What Are the Stages of Dementia?
According to Dementia.org, there are seven stages of dementia. These include:
- No cognitive decline
- Age-associated memory impairment
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Mild dementia
- Moderate dementia
- Moderately severe dementia
- Severe dementia
There is no set time limit for how long your loved one will go through each stage. It could progress swiftly, or it could take years.
During the first three stages of dementia, you may notice simple things, such as your loved one forgetting where they placed their keys or the names of familiar people. This may progress to getting lost or needing help to concentrate.
In stage four, mild dementia, your elderly loved one may be in denial. You may see them become disoriented or unable to recognize people they have known for years.
Stage five, moderate dementia, is when your elderly parent or spouse may begin to need more help carrying on typical day-to-day tasks. This may mean reminding them of their home address and assisting them with doctor appointments.
In stage six, moderately severe dementia, your elderly loved one may forget who you are, as well as the names of their children, grandchildren, or spouse. You may notice that they are becoming obsessive in their thinking and may feel anxiety, aggression, and agitation toward you and others.
During stage seven, severe dementia, your loved one may lose the ability to speak. They'll also require more assistance with tasks such as eating and using the restroom.
Tips for Helping Your Elderly Loved One Living With Dementia
It's crucial to provide emotional support while not enabling them. This can be as simple as helping them find their keys and letting them pick the keys up. Don't just hand them to your senior loved one. This may obviously change as they progress through the stages, but during the earlier stages, encourage them to remain as independent as possible.
Also, educate yourself on what dementia is and what it isn't. Talking with your elderly loved one's doctor can help clear up many myths and mistruths you may encounter online.
As communication changes with your elderly loved one, find new ways to talk. Simply touching them while they're speaking is one method recommended by the NIA. It would be best if you also kept your tone warm and comforting.
Tips for Handling Challenging Situations
Angry outbursts may happen, but staying positive is a great way to respond. Just remember, this isn't about you. It's part of living with dementia.
Also, using phrases like "Please" and "Thanks" will go a long way towards making your elderly loved one continue to feel like they have some independence.
Finally, don't be afraid to repeat instructions or questions if needed.
You Are Not Alone
Helping a loved one living with dementia isn't something you have to handle on your own. From discussing tips with their doctor to reaching out to loved ones, you probably have a more comprehensive network of support than you realize.
If you are interested in in-home care, Senior Helpers Hot Springs offers home care throughout Hot Springs Village, Garland, Montgomery, Hot Springs, Clark, and Saline County. Contact us today for more information on in-home care or to schedule an in-home assessment.