Brain health is important at any age – whether you are young, old or somewhere in between, however, when we reach middle age, it becomes increasingly essential to ensure that we are brain healthy at a time when changes in the brain start to occur, leaving us vulnerable to dementia. A devastating condition affecting over 400,000 Australian, dementia in Australia is set to increase to more than 800,000 by 2058. So, what is it and how can we delay the onset of dementia?
There are many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia – which Hollywood actor, Bruch Willis was recently diagnosed with – and Lewy body disease. Indiscriminate, dementia can happen to anybody, although tends to be more common after the age of 65. Insidious and progressive, it affects the brain which includes memory loss, cognitive decline and behavioural changes. Over time, the disease gradually worsens in stages, with eventual loss of the ability to perform everyday tasks, which can make caring for a loved one increasingly challenging. Statistics show that in 2023, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million people in Australia are involved in the care of someone living with dementia.
At Home Care Assistance, we are a trusted and experienced provider of care to individuals and families living with mild to severe dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can have a devastating effect on families, who may choose to seek professional care. Our experience has shown that the difference between a good day and a bad day can be as simple as a familiar home environment and the assistance of an experienced and skilled Care Professional.
Our dedicated Care Professionals are trained and experienced in connecting and communicating throughout the different stages dementia. We’re here to help. Here is a guide to the seven stages and what to look out for:
Stage 1: No impairment
In this stage, a person does not show any signs of memory loss or cognitive decline. The individual functions normally and does not display any behavioural changes. The best thing to do at this stage is to plan for the possibility of dementia. Eat well, move your body and practice cognitive-boosting activities to reduce your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline – forgetfulness
This stage will see a person start to experience some minor memory loss, including forgetting names or where they placed objects. The decline in cognition may be noticeable to the individual and their family members. It is important to remember that not all people who are forgetful have dementia, but when it becomes a continued pattern, it’s time to get assessed. Try post-it notes, reminder apps on the phone, or smart home devices to help.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline – family and friends are starting to notice
At this stage, a person may start to have difficulty performing complex tasks and may experience difficulty remembering recent events. They may begin to withdraw from social activities and may have trouble with problem-solving.
At this point, you want to rule out other factors such as environment, physical health, mental health to name a few. Once you take a closer look at these factors, you can start a conversation with your doctor on the next steps.
Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline – early signs of dementia
The individual experiences a more significant decline in cognitive function. They may have difficulty remembering important details about their life, such as their home address or phone number. They may also have trouble with basic tasks, such as dressing and grooming.
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline – mid-stage dementia
At this stage, the person will require assistance with daily tasks, such as bathing and dressing. They may have trouble remembering significant details about their life, such as their own name or the name of their close relatives and friends.
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline – affecting activities of daily living
At this stage, the individual will require constant care, and they may not be able to communicate verbally. They may also experience significant personality changes, such as agitation, anger and depression. Loved ones will need assistance with getting dressed and undressed, help using the bathroom and being bathed, may not make it to the bathroom in time or not know to use the bathroom altogether.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline – final stage dementia
In the final stage of dementia, the individual loses the ability to communicate or respond to the environment. They will require around-the-clock care and may experience a loss of motor function. Here you will see a severe decline in both language and mobility where talking becomes one to six words and sitting up unaided is a challenge. At this stage, it is important to keep the person comfortable without trying to fix or change the condition.
That said, the stages of dementia focus on lost abilities at each point of the journey, however, it is crucial to know that it’s not all loss. Those living with a dementia diagnosis report that while some abilities disappear, others emerge. Many people find a new and more profound connection with loved ones. It is essential to acknowledge the losses, and to focus on what is present versus what isn’t. With this in mind, knowing how to navigate through the seven stages of dementia can help improve the quality of life for those living with dementia and those who love them.
Support of a home care company like Home Care Assistance, can bring enormous benefit and comfort to your quality of life while living independently at home. Home Care Assistance has viable solutions when it comes to supporting independent living. For more information, get in touch with a Home Care Assistance near me today.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.