What is Dementia?
Dementia is a word that is used very generally to describe any degenerative condition that is attached to various brain functions such as;
as well as many others brain activities we rely on and also take for granted in everyday life.
A wide range of diseases, possibly over a hundred or more can affect the brain in different ways that then lead to the most known dementia symptoms such as memory loss and behaviour regression.
Over time, the medical occupation has now begun to accept just what a problematic issue this disease is.
Dementia isn’t actually a new disease, it’s a combination of people living longer and side effects of the modern western world taking hold.
Currently, there is no cure…
What do I know about Dementia?
Dementia affected my Grandma and also my Grandfathers brother, so, to be honest, I’m half expecting to have to go through something like this in later life.
I was once like most people before they experience dementia first hand.
I wasn’t disrespectful at all, but in the past, I’ve kind of looked at another person when the person with dementia had done something very untoward.
Maybe the person had;
- Let off wind
- Swore unexpectedly
- Started picking their nose and eating it
- Ate their lunch with a comb
- Lifted their top up revealing their chest
- Became abusive
- Started crying
Then, I’d of smiled to another person and said what’s up with them?
Maybe I was ignorant, I don’t mind you having a bad opinion of me because all this changed over the next 20 months.
Now I know what I know, I now want to help others…
What Qualifies me to give advice?
Personally, I’m no medical expert when it comes to dementia and neither are the majority of family’s all over the world that are having to deal with this illness on a daily basis.
I talk solely from experience as you may notice from these articles.
I can give an account of looking after my family member with dementia and the toll it took on me, as well as others that will be mentioned by relationship rather than name.
It really does open your eyes and I, for one, know first hand just how stressing and taxing this illness can be on the carer (which was me), the loved ones and the carers that will assist and visit your loved one during the illness.
Every day when I came home from work I kind of dreaded what I would be walking in to.
So what are the stages of Dementia?
Healthcare professionals will often talk to you about ‘stages’ of the disease because although patients may experience slightly different symptoms or reactions during each stage, ultimately the path through stages is the same.
Below you will see the cognitive decline stages listed below. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) will cause a noticeable and also measurable decline in the ability to think and can cause gradual and progressive memory loss.
Stage 1 – No Cognitive Decline
- No Dementia
Stage 1 of dementia is actually when there is no dementia present.
You are currently experiencing;
- No memory loss
- Normal memory function
- Mentally Healthy
Stage 2 – Slight Cognitive Decline
- No Dementia
This stage is where you begin to forget names of fairly familiar people or acquaintances that used to come to hand quickly before and without hesitation.
You may also begin to lose objects by mislaying them such as phones, money keys, etc.
Please be aware, just because you lost your keys doesn’t mean you are at this stage of dementia. Just be mindful if this begins happening on regular occasions.
Stage 3 – Mild Cognitive Decline
- No dementia
Your forgetfulness increases and your performance either at work or at home begins to become noticeable by yourself, friends or family.
This can often lead to disagreements or fallout between work colleagues, family or friends, as well as frustration for the person with the symptoms.
Stage 4 – Moderate Decline
- Early Stage Dementia
The person may become more withdrawn from socialising and start to stop in more but citing other reasons for it.
They will become extremely forgetful and will often get lost on short journeys to what used to be ‘familiar places’.
You may find that the person is often just wandering around the house.
Stage 5 – Moderate to Severe decline
- Mid-Stage Dementia
At this stage, the memory loss is very clear to see and the patient will be unable to look after themselves, whether its washing themselves, dressing or preparing food.
Stage 6 – Severe Cognitive Decline
- Mid-stage Dementia
The patient will need assistance even with the simplest of tasks. The become repetitive in spoken words as well as their actions such as repeatedly folding napkins or continuously tidying the same area.
Their speech is very limited and toilet visits become much more difficult.
Quite often the toilet visits will be either to not get there in time or to get lost and wander into another room.
They will become more agitated, possibly aggressive and also emotional because at times they will know they are unable to do what came naturally to them for a few seconds.
At this stage patience and understanding is essential but is more difficult than you expect!
Stage 7 – The final stage
- Very severe cognitive
This may sound heartless and it’s not until your loved one has passed that you’ll agree in time but you now wish for your loved one to pass peacefully because this is the final period.
This still upsets me typing it but my grandma would not want to be in this state, unable to;
- Go to the toilet
Its now possibly 24 hour care for your loved one and this is having a huge effect on your personal life due to emotions running high.
Be there for your loved one, hold their hand and make them feel loved.
The response from your loved one will become less and less and you’ll also find them sleeping more.
Personally, what I found for myself is that they get dehydrated very quickly as they don’t attempt to eat or drink and what I did was often take drinks to my grandma and help here to drink them.
She still wanted to drink because she reached out for them but quite often she would knock them over because she didn’t have the strength to lift them and also didn’t know how to.
I’ve covered each section the best I could but if you want more information and have gotten this far please scroll back up to the top and I have added clickable links taking you to different parts of the site.
As I’ve said wherever applicable I am trying to broaden your understandings by giving my own account of dementia. I have no medical knowledge and should you require expert, qualified opinion you should speak to a professional.
The advice provided in this article is my account of looking after my grandma with dementia and should you follow this article you do so at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way.
With love and understanding