Dementia is a progressive condition that causes behavioral changes. Caregivers of seniors living with dementia can observe these behavioral changes and respond to them appropriately. While these changes can be challenging, the guide below discusses the different behaviors to expect at various dementia stages and how to respond and provide emotional support.
Various Types of Behavior To Expect From Seniors at Different Stages of Dementia
Behavioral changes differ at each stage of dementia and may range from screaming, use of offensive language, forgetfulness, irritability, and isolation. The seven stages of dementia include:
Stage 1: No Cognitive Impairment
Seniors will show no impairment, but medical tests may reveal a problem. The signs at this stage include normal memory function.
Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline
Forgetfulness is a common behavioral change. Seniors tend to forget names and misplace familiar objects.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
There is increased forgetfulness and difficulty in concentration. Seniors show decreased work performance and get lost frequently. Verbal repetition is also noticeable.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
Behavioral changes include difficulty concentrating, denial, withdrawal from social groups, and difficulty completing tasks. Other changes include moodiness and lack of responsiveness.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
There is a significant memory deficiency. The senior may need assistance with dressing or taking a bath. Wandering and disorientation are also common.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
Seniors experience difficulty speaking, sleep difficulties, aggression, anxiety, and loss of bladder control.
Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
This is the last stage of dementia, and seniors require assistance with most activities. Other symptoms include restlessness, angry outbursts, pronounced memory loss, and loss of physical abilities.
Understanding Dementia-Related Behaviors and How Best To Respond
For those caring for seniors showing dementia symptoms, it is important to understand why they are behaving like that. This includes knowing that the senior no longer understand what is happening. It is, therefore, appropriate to understand that:
- Repetition may result from memory loss: as a caregiver, be patient and help the senior find answers.
- If they are experiencing restlessness, set a daily routine and give them something to keep them occupied.
- For seniors with sleep problems who get up repeatedly during the night, the caregiver can ensure the bedroom is comfortable and that the senior cuts down on caffeine.
- Aggressive behavior could result from untreated pain and can be countered by avoiding confrontation and staying calm.
- If the senior is delusional, talk calmly to them and offer reassurance.
- When experiencing forgetfulness, set a daily routine and use memory tools such as notes and calendars.
- Avoid arguments with an aggressive senior. Remain calm, and do not take aggression as intentional or personal.
How Caregivers Can Support a Senior Living With Dementia
Whether the senior is in the first or last stage of dementia, a caregiver can show support by:
- Monitoring and tracking a senior's dementia symptoms.
- Ensuring that their eyesight or hearing aid is correctly functioning.
- Creating a care plan.
- Checking whether the medication is appropriate.
- Exploring care options, such as memory care, adult day services, or respite care.
- Helping determine a suitable care environment.
- Identifying triggers of a distressed senior and minimizing them.
Need Caregiver Help?
At Senior Helpers Greeley, our mission is to ensure your elderly loved one is safe and comfortable. We offer in-home caregiver services in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Wellington, Windsor, Estes Park, and Longmont. Be sure to contact us for our services.