While many Seniors living with Dementia lead happy and fulfilling lives after their diagnosis, their treatment options can only slow the progression of the disease — not stop it.
Over time, the mild symptoms that motivate someone to seek treatment will evolve. Their symptoms will eventually worsen until a person requires daily support from family Caregivers, nursing staff at long-term care homes, or Toronto home health care professionals, like the team at Integracare.
Knowing your experience with Dementia will change with time can be challenging for everyone involved — whether you live with Dementia or take care of a family member with the disease. However, coping strategies can help you manage symptoms as they progress.
As the best and most qualified provider of at home Dementia Care in Mississauga and Toronto, we know which coping strategies work. That’s why we’re shining a spotlight on Dementia, explaining such things as why symptoms worsen, when you can expect things to change, and proven methods for dealing with Dementia symptoms as they progress.
What is Dementia and Why Does Dementia Get Worse with Time?
Dementia is a general term describing a cluster of different conditions that cause damage to the brain.
Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Alzheimer’s Disease are the four most common forms known today. However, more than 100 conditions fall under this umbrella term.
Each one is a unique form of Dementia for the ways it damages the brain, limiting a person’s memory, language skills, emotional processing, and mobility.
While there are many types of Dementia with varying symptoms, every kind gets worse over time because the damage it causes to the brain is permanent.
Once an area of the brain is damaged, it can’t recover or grow back. These areas remain damaged as the condition spreads to other parts of the brain. As a result, the damage accumulates in size and severity as time goes on. This widespread damage creates new symptoms, depending on where it occurs, or makes existing symptoms worse.
When Can You Expect Dementia to Get Worse?
As a degenerative condition, Dementia comes with the certainty that it will get worse. However, there’s no way to predict when you or your loved one’s mental and physical abilities will deteriorate.
Everyone’s experience with Dementia is different. One person’s health can decline rapidly, while others may live well with Dementia for years.
How quickly your or your loved one’s condition progresses may depend on the following factors:
- The Type of Dementia
- Your Support System
Dementia Progression: Tracking Symptoms in Three Stages
While there’s no exact timeline to which you can compare your symptoms, you can generally categorize the progression of Dementia into three stages. These three stages are used by the medical community at large, including the team at Integracare when we provide Dementia home care in Mississauga and Toronto.
Below, you can see how the stage system breaks down a person’s symptoms into three levels of severity: mild, moderate, and severe.
- Early Stage | Mild: As this first phase of the condition, the early stage of Dementia marks the start of the disease. Symptoms are often mild, so most people can live independently with very few support systems in place.
- Middle Stage | Moderate: As their condition progresses, someone living with Dementia will eventually pass into the middle stage. At this point, symptoms may increase in severity and number, and a person may require greater assistance with daily living.
- Late Stage | Severe: Marking the final phase of Dementia, the late stage makes it impossible for someone to live without compassionate and educated Caregivers helping them at home or in a facility. Symptoms will include significant cognitive impairments as well as physical issues, so they will require help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
Whether you’re living with the disease or caring for loved ones with Dementia, this three-tiered map can help you picture what to expect in the future. However, it’s important to know that these stages only provide a loose guideline.
Seniors can move through these stages at different speeds. They also may not graduate from one level to the next seamlessly depending on the location and extent of the damage.
If Dementia affects one part of the brain more so than other areas, a person might need assistance with some parts of their life while managing other tasks with zero help from Caregivers.
What Can You Do to Delay its Progress?
While there’s nothing you can do to stop Dementia in its tracks, there are some things you can do to delay the onset of each new stage.
When it comes to Dementia home care in Mississauga and Toronto, Integracare recommends Seniors follow a typically healthy lifestyle. Our Dementia Care services strive to preserve dignity and independence at every stage. But more importantly, our mission is to foster joyful living for all our Clients, so we recommend doing things that make you happy, feel good, and support good health.
You can do that by keeping your mind and body active. Here are some tips we recommend for all Seniors, not just those wishing to slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Challenge Your Brain: Continue with old hobbies or pick up new ones that stimulate your brain and make you think in different ways. Knitting, playing word games, cooking, reading, making art, debating, and taking classes are just some ideas to get you started. These activities help keep your mind sharp as you test your memory and nurture language skills, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities.
Stay Social: While your initial diagnosis can make you feel like withdrawing from others, it’s important you stay connected with friends, family members, and other important people in your life. Not only can social activities stimulate your brain, but these relationships can help stave off feelings of depression and anxiety. Relieving stress like this can delay Dementia from developing.
Keep Your Body Moving: Staying active as a Senior is a great way to maintain strength, improve balance, and increase coordination. This can help you stay more mobile as your symptoms worsen. Physical activity can also improve brain health when it challenges your hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.
Eat a Balanced Diet: Previously on the Integracare blog, we discussed how a balanced diet rich in micronutrients could affect the mental and physical changes associated with aging. Eating well has been proven to give your brain the fuel it needs to function and slow cognitive decline in older adults.
Try to Keep Positive: While staying optimistic in the face of a Dementia diagnosis can be hard, it’s easier when you have a support system in your life. Open up to a friend you can trust or speak with a therapist. You can join a Dementia support group to speak with professionals and other people living with the condition. Some families hire professional Personal Support Workers to provide companionship so that their loved ones don’t feel lonely during parts of their day.
At Home Dementia Care Can Help You Deal with Worsening Symptoms
When you first receive your diagnosis, you may be in the early stage of Dementia with relatively mild symptoms. With the right lifestyle adjustments and support, you may have many years before your memory loss and mobility deteriorate significantly.
However, planning for a degenerative disease like Dementia requires thinking about a future when symptoms will worsen. After months or years of living in the early stage of the condition, you or your loved one will eventually pass into the second and final stages of Dementia.
In the more severe stages, many Seniors may have significant memory issues, forgetting where they are or who people are. This can lead to sundowning, wandering and other Dementia symptoms that worry those around them, as they might get lost or forget to turn off the oven.
Seniors in this stage may eventually have trouble communicating their basic needs or understanding what people say to them. This usually coincides with changes in their mobility, which can make it hard for them to walk, get out of bed, or even swallow.
By then, Dementia may be hard for family Caregivers to handle on their own. Not everyone has the time, resources, or medical know-how to look after their loved ones at home, especially in the late stage of Dementia.
What to Expect from Integracare Dementia Home Care in Mississauga and Toronto
Here at Integracare, we believe everyone deserves to age with dignity at home. That’s why we provide flexible Dementia home care in Mississauga and Toronto; we’re ready to step in at any point you or your loved ones think is necessary — even if you’re still in the early stage of your condition.
In order to help families support their loved ones living comfortably at home, we’ve put together a talented group of experienced health care professionals who can provide a wide range of services.
Companionship & Other Support Work
We educate our Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in all four facets of Dementia Care to ensure they have the right training to support our Clients with anything they need. These compassionate and knowledgeable PSWs can be friendly faces filling in the gaps between family Caregiving to ensure Seniors aren’t alone.
During their time together, Seniors and their PSWs can work together on light tasks that someone with Dementia wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do on their own safely. This may include meal preparation, cooking, and light housekeeping.
However, our compassionate PSWs are prepared to provide more practical assistance with everyday needs, such as the ADLs found below.