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Navigating the Progression of Dementia: What to Expect

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Dementia is a progressive disease that affects millions of people worldwide, and it can be challenging for both the person with dementia and their loved ones. As the disease progresses, there are a number of changes that occur, both in terms of physical and cognitive function. In this blog post, we’ll explore what you can expect as the person’s dementia progresses and how you can best support them through each stage.

Early stage

In the early stages of dementia, the person may begin to experience memory loss and have difficulty with simple tasks. They may forget appointments, struggle to find the right words, or misplace items. It’s important to be patient and understanding during this time, as it can be frustrating for the person with dementia. Encourage them to use memory aids, such as a calendar or reminders on their phone, and help them stay organised.

You may also notice that the person’s personality begins to change, and they may become more irritable or withdrawn. This can be a difficult time for both the person with dementia and their loved ones, but it’s important to remain supportive and understanding. Encourage them to continue to participate in activities they enjoy, and try to maintain a sense of routine and structure.

Mid-stage

As dementia progresses into the mid-stage, the person may experience more significant changes in their cognitive and physical function. They may have difficulty with tasks such as dressing or bathing, and they may require more assistance with daily activities. This can be a difficult time for caregivers, as it can be challenging to balance the needs of the person with dementia with their own needs.

During this stage, it’s important to focus on providing a safe and supportive environment for the person with dementia. This may include making modifications to the home, such as installing handrails or removing trip hazards. You may also need to consider hiring additional support, such as a home health aide or respite care provider, to help with daily tasks.

Late stage

In the late stage of dementia, the person may experience significant changes in their physical and cognitive function. They may be unable to communicate verbally, and they may require assistance with all activities of daily living. This can be a challenging time for both the person with dementia and their loved ones, as it can be difficult to provide the necessary level of care.

During this stage, it’s important to focus on providing comfort and support to the person with dementia. This may include providing assistance with feeding, bathing, and toileting, as well as ensuring that they are comfortable and pain-free. You may also need to consider hospice care, which can provide additional support and resources for both the person with dementia and their caregivers.

Supporting the person with dementia

As the person’s dementia progresses, it’s important to continue to provide emotional support and encouragement. This may include engaging in activities they enjoy, such as listening to music or looking at old photos, as well as providing physical touch and reassurance. It’s also important to continue to communicate with the person, even if they are unable to respond verbally.

In addition to emotional support, it’s important to ensure that the person with dementia receives appropriate medical care. This may include regular check-ups with their doctor, as well as monitoring for any new or worsening symptoms. It’s also important to ensure that the person’s medications are managed appropriately, and that any new medications are approved by their doctor.

Takeaway

Dementia is a progressive disease that can be challenging for both the person with dementia and their loved ones. As the disease progresses, there are a number of changes that occur, both in terms of physical and cognitive function.

It’s important to be patient and understanding during each stage of the disease, and to focus on providing a safe and supportive environment for the person with dementia. By understanding what to expect as the person’s dementia progresses and providing appropriate support, you can help ensure that they receive the care and attention they need at every stage of the disease.


Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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