The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
What Are The Stages Of Dementia
In the early stages of dementia, symptoms are often mild. Seniors with early-stage dementia continue to be active in the community, drive and work. Lapses in memory occur, and the senior or loved ones may notice the seniors forgetfulness of familiar words or location of commonplace items.
As the disease advances to middle-stage dementia, the senior will start to need extra support. The dementia patient is likely to feel increased frustration with emerging limitations. The damage to the nerve cells in the brain can cause daily tasks to seem insurmountable.
In middle-stage dementia, care will be necessary to protect the senior. The dementia patient may not recall a home address, be confused about the day and time or have the tendency to wander. Incontinence issues are common at this stage, as bladder and bowels become difficult to control.
The senior with middle-stage dementia can continue to participate in everyday activities, provided that support is readily available. Dementia caregivers will observe the care recipient to see what he is capable of accomplishing and make an effort to simplify those tasks.
Dementia symptoms become severe in the late stage of the disease. 24-hour home care will be necessary. The individual will experience changes that affect his abilities to walk, sit or eat. Hospice care may be an option in this late stage, as it benefits both the senior and his family.
Towards The End Of Life
It can be very difficult for family and carers to prepare for the end, but by thinking about it and making some plans, it may be a little easier. When someone reaches the final stages of life one of the main concerns is to ensure that they are comfortable and as pain free as possible. If you are concerned that the person with dementia may be in some pain or discomfort, discuss this with the doctor and nursing staff.
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Living Well With Dementia
Talking about death and dementia is difficult and distressing. The statistics can seem scary. However, each individual is different. People can live well with dementia, and you can still look forward to times of joy and togetherness. Professional home carers can help to ease the burden for family carers, supporting your loved one to continue living in their own home in comfort and safety.
Sudden Worsening Of Dementia Symptoms
Whether youve been diagnosed with dementia yourself or are caring for someone who has, a sudden change in symptoms, such acute confusion, memory loss, or delirium can be really worrying. In this guide we talk about some of the lesser known reasons why symptoms can get worse in a short space of time, and what to do about it.
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According to Alzheimers Research UK, one in every two people will know someone affected by dementia, and you dont have to personally receive a diagnosis for it to have a big impact on your daily life. Seeing a loved one go through cognitive decline is never easy, especially if they seem to be progressing fairly quickly through the different stages of dementia.
Its important to remember that while there are three recognised stages of dementia, symptoms will vary from person to person, which can sometimes give the impression that the condition is progressing faster than it actually is. For example, some common symptoms may occur earlier than expected, while others will fail to occur at all. Some behaviours, such as emotional outbursts, or feeling depressed can come and go too.
And, while dementia is progressive, a sudden or unexpected change in behaviour, mood or memory wont always mean that its the condition itself getting worse. There are a number of other health conditions that can make symptoms worse, which well cover in this guide too.
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Can You Die From Dementia
Dementia is usually considered a disorder affecting memory and is associated with aging. In the initial stages, this could be true. Loss of memory is one of the earliest signs of the disease.
However, according to experts, dementia is a fatal brain failure that needs to be taken seriously like other terminal diseases that kill a patient slowly. It is not just an ailment that is associated with the elderly.
Even though the distinction is not really known in the medical field and to the general public, it is something that needs to be considered when one has to be treated at the very end stage of the condition.
It is believed that the fact that people are misinformed and misguided about dementia, the end stage treatment is usually made very aggressive.
The disease progresses quite slowly and the fact that it affects so many people means that it should be taken seriously. Dementia is a collection or a consequence of different diseases like Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinsons disease. In later stages, you can tell the type of dementia that is affecting a certain patient.
The patient can have eating problems, pneumonia, fever, pain, and difficulty breathing, which are all caused by the failure of the brain. In the end, dementia involves so many other parts of the body.
It is important to appreciate that the brain is the engine of our bodies. It controls everything, including metabolism, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, and even the heart.
Do Treatments Add Time To Life Expectancy
Experts simply dont know whether treatments help a person live longer with Alzheimers disease. AD and other similar dementias progress no matter what. Treatments like medications and therapies have been conclusively shown to help manage symptoms, meaning they make it easier to live with the disease, but they do not reverse symptoms. The memory of a person with dementia who takes medications like cholinesterase inhibitors, for example, will be slightly better than the memory of someone who is not on medication. Quality of life therefore improves with treatment. This means better years with dementia, but probably not more years.
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Do You Die From Dementia
The forgetfulness, confusion and communication problems of dementia are caused by increasing damage to cells in the brain. But the brain doesnt just control memory and thought it is also the control centre for the body. Progressive brain cell death will eventually cause the digestive system, lungs, and heart to fail, meaning that dementia is a terminal condition.
Studies suggest that, on average, someone will live around ten years following a dementia diagnosis. However, this can vary significantly between individuals, some people living for more than twenty years, so its important to try not to focus on the figures and to make the very most of the time left.
What Tools And Technology Facilitate Living At Home
Living independently and safely at home is possible for people with a dementia diagnosis. Assistive technology, for instance, includes medication dispensers that release the right pills at correct intervals, movement sensors to detect when a fall has occurred, and smoke alarms.
People with dementia also find tablets and smartphones a major help when living at home. Apps provide useful reminders for doctors appointments or social events. Some apps, like games and digital photo albums, are designed specifically for dementia patients and their caregivers.
Seniors also stay in touch with current events through voice-controlled virtual assistants. Dementia patients are aware of the latest news, as well as the weather. In-home memory care providers, for instance, will help elderly care recipients dress appropriately for the days weather.
Driving may no longer be an option for seniors with severe dementia symptoms. However, they may rely on professional caregivers for safe transportation. Seniors with mild dementia may choose to continue driving for as long as they are able. Others may feel driving is too stressful and elect to stop.
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Signs Of Death In Elderly With Dementia: End Stage
Dementia is a term used to describe the persistent or chronic decline in ones mental processes and this include personality changes, impaired reasoning, and memory loss. The most common form is Alzheimers disease and it accounts for over 70 percent of all the dementia cases.
It is one of the greatest causes of death in the United States with over five million people living with the disease in the country alone. One of the age groups affected by dementia is the seniors. If you are a caregiver, it is important to know the signs of death in elderly with dementia.
Most progressive dementias and Alzheimers disease do not have any cure. The diseases get worse with the passage of time, but the timeline can be very different from one person to the next.
Caring for persons with the diseases can be stressful and very challenging, especially when their personality begins to change and their cognitive function starts to decline. It is possible that the individual will not even recognize the people who are closest and dearest to them.
As the disease progresses, the person needs more and more support from the caregiver and the family. If the person is elderly, the caregiver needs to know about all the signs that the patient may be dying.
You may need to put the patient on hospice so as that he or she can get the appropriate care during such moments. This offers the family and the patient spiritual, physical, and emotional care.
Can Dementia Patients Live At Home
People with dementia can live at home, especially in the early stages of dementia.
Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning that its symptoms get worse over time. One of the significant signs of dementia is short-term memory loss. Short-term memory loss means they can often forget:
- Where they placed things
- New names or places
- Scheduled events or appointments
They may need help remembering new information, but living at home isnt a huge issue in the early stages of dementia.
Additionally, home is a place of comfort and certainty. The later stages of dementia can bring about confusion, wandering, and the risk of getting lost. Keeping individuals with dementia in their homes provides them with familiarity. This familiarity may include:
- Events and other appointments
Home is an excellent place for someone with dementia to remain, regardless of their dementia stage.
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Can Someone With Dementia Live Alone And Other Important Questions
Helping dementia patients live at home is one of the best ways to encourage their health, longevity, and comfort. There are times when moving someone with dementia is necessary, but its often best to keep them at home.
There can be some worry and uncertainty regarding individuals with dementia living at home, especially if theyre alone. If youre an adult child or family caregiver to someone with dementia, you may have lots of questions about your loved one living at home.
In this article, were sharing expert information about people with dementia living at home and how to get help for dementia sufferers living alone. Well answer some of the most pressing questions, like:
- Can someone with dementia live alone?
- How long can dementia patients live at home?
- How can you promote independence in a person with dementia?
Keep reading to learn more about the risks and benefits of people with dementia staying at home.
How Much Time Can Treatment Add
Treatment will not prevent the progression of AD. It is also unclear if treatment can add time to a persons life. Ultimately, AD will progress and take its toll on the brain and body. As it progresses, symptoms and side effects will get worse.
However, a few medications may be able to slow the progression of AD at least for a short time. Treatment can also improve your quality of life and help treat symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your treatment options.
study identified several factors that affect a persons life expectancy. These include:
- Gender: A 2004 study found that men lived an average of 4.2 years after their initial diagnosis. Women were found to live an average of 5.7 years after their diagnosis.
- Severity of symptoms: People with significant motor impairment, such as a history of falls and a tendency to wander or walk away, had shorter life expectancies.
- Brain abnormalities: The study also detected a connection between brain and spinal cord abnormalities and the length of life.
- Other health problems: People with heart disease, a history of heart attack, or diabetes had shorter lifespans than patients without these complicating health factors.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia
Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.
A person with dementia will often have cognitive symptoms . They will often have problems with some of the following:
- Day-to-day memory difficulty recalling events that happened recently.
- Repetition repeating the same question or conversation frequently in a short space of time.
- Concentrating, planning or organising difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks .
- Language difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something.
- Visuospatial skills problems judging distances and seeing objects in three dimensions.
- Orientation losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.
Some people have other symptoms including movement problems, hallucinations or behaviour changes.
Life Expectancy By Stage Of The Disease
The average number of years a person lives with Alzheimers disease is about 10. Keep in mind, however, that theres a gap between when symptoms begin and when a diagnosis is actually sought. The first symptoms of Alzheimers diseaseforgetting names, misplacing items, difficulty concentrating at work or performing simple tasksarrive an average of almost three years before the diagnosis is made.
The scale most commonly used by health professionals for the stages of dementia is the Global Deterioration Scale , also called the Reisberg Scale. The table below shows a patients average life expectancy by the stage of dementia. These are averages based on studies of large numbers of Alzheimers patients.
|Life Expectancy By Stage of Alzheimers / Dementia|
|Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline||1.5 to 2.5 years||2.5 years or less|
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How Can You Promote Independence In A Person With Dementia
Even though its often not best to allow someone with dementia to live alone, you still want to promote independent living for as long as possible.
Independent living usually means providing a routine and encouraging your loved one to do simple daily tasks themself. These daily tasks might include:
- Bathing and dressing
- Socializing with friends
- Creating and following a daily to-do list
Anything that keeps them active and thinking for themselves is beneficial. There may come a time when your loved one with dementia needs around-the-clock care. Until then, promote an independent lifestyle as much as possible.
How Dementia Complicates Hospice Eligibility
Estimating how long a person has to live is nearly impossible. It simply cannot be done with absolute accuracy in most cases, but a general idea is required in order to establish a persons eligibility for receiving hospice care. To qualify for most programs, an individual must have a terminal health condition and a life expectancy of six months or less. However, not all life-threatening diseases progress predictably. Any dementia caregiver can attest to the fact that a loved ones condition can improve or worsen on a daily basis. Fortunately, physicians and hospice staff who are knowledgeable about dementia, especially in the later stages, can help families determine when it is time to seek out comfort care.
Dementia can complicate the eligibility process for hospice but taking a persons personality prior to their diagnosis into consideration can help, explains Meredith Fields Lawler, LCSW, Director of Outreach Programs at the Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Fields Lawler recalls a patient many years ago who had Lewy Body dementia and whose daughter was experiencing an immense amount of stress over the worsening of his symptoms. He would often lose track of time, and it had become hard to hold his attention. The daughter and I sat together and through tears she told me about what her dad was like while she was growing up.
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Causes Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which damages and eventually kills brain cells.
This can happen as a result of:
- narrowing and blockage of the small blood vessels inside the brain
- a single stroke, where the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off
- lots of “mini strokes” that cause tiny but widespread damage to the brain
Tackling these might reduce your risk of vascular dementia in later life, although it’s not yet clear exactly how much your risk of dementia can be reduced.