Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a dementia care manual, with step-by-step information on what to expect at each stage of the disease? While there are a number of general commonalities in the progression of dementia, each person’s experience is different. This makes it hard to know what to expect on any given day.
Even with the unpredictability of Alzheimer’s disease, there are particular situations which are beyond the typical range of expectations to watch for. Perhaps one of the most concerning is a sharp decline in dementia. This may occur for a variety of reasons:
- An underlying illness such as cancer or prion disease
- Delirium, triggered by an infection, hospital stay or surgery, medication side effects, insufficient sleep, dehydration, or even constipation
- Brain injury from a fall or a stroke
- Disruption to normal routine from a move, change in caregivers, hospitalization, etc.
What Are the Typical Stages of Dementia?
Dementia is progressive, and as of now, incurable. For these reasons, a decline in condition is to be expected. A sudden decline in dementia, however, is atypical. Generally speaking, the disease progresses through the following stages:
- Early: The first detectable signs of dementia are typically very mild, including short-term memory lapses, forgetting a word, or getting lost.
- Middle: In the middle stage of the disease, cognitive challenges progress to the point that the individual struggles with independently performing activities of daily living.
- Late: the last stage of dementia, that may take years to reach, involves a lack of response and recognition of both people and environment, as the body begins to shut down.
If You Notice Sudden Worsening of Dementia…
Seek medical help immediately if an abrupt decline is noted so that the cause can be pinpointed and addressed.
A dementia care journal can be a very helpful tool, before, during, and after worsening symptoms. Daily journaling can help you keep track of:
- What works and what doesn’t work in helping the person manage challenges
- Any difficult behaviors noted, with details on time of day and possible triggers or contributing circumstances
- Medications taken and any side effects detected
- Eating and sleeping habits
- The person’s overall demeanor on any given day
These kinds of details will be invaluable in helping to patch together what might have caused a rapid change in condition and how to remedy it.
Superior Senior Home Care’s caregivers are specially skilled and trained in providing care for those with dementia and detecting any changes in condition. Contact us at 805-737-4357 and let us walk beside you in your dementia care journey. Our services are available throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, including Solvang, Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, and other nearby locations.