Dementia progresses in many different ways, often depending on the cause of the disorder. With Alzheimer’s disease, the time between the first symptoms showing through the gradual loss of their mental abilities can range from seven to ten years. Vascular dementia is usually a result of small blood vessels in the brain becoming blocked, but it has a more erratic progression. As dementia progresses, you may notice that your loved one needs more and more care from family and friends.
There are many signs that you should look out for during the progression of dementia. For example, a father who had been a very good driver all his life has recently become lost several times while driving home from the grocery store. He may have even had several minor accidents due to the fact that he can’t keep up with changing traffic patterns or gets confused from all of the turns he must make on the route home. Despite all of these signs, the father demands that he keep driving as usual and gets very defensive when anyone tries to talk to him about the fact that he is no longer a safe driver.
Another example could be a mother who is in the kitchen washing her hands after cooking breakfast. She accidentally leaves the water running and floods the house. Lately, she has completely stopped cooking because she says that she just can’t remember how to cook any of her favorite recipes. These may be recipes that she has cooked for decades and has never had a problem remembering the ingredients before. Earlier, a local supermarket manager, wandering around the produce section for hours, had found her. She had absolutely no memory of how she got there.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you are not alone. The problems associated with dementia are often very frustrating for the senior, while they are extremely frightening for their family and friends. The frustration on the part of the senior can boil over into becoming irritable and demanding, especially if they don’t recognize that they have a cognitive problem. They may end up resenting their loved ones for trying to tell them they can’t do activities that they have always done.
Many seniors, despite all the changes that come with dementia, can engage in a lot of usual activities that do not require a difficult level of mental functioning. Some of the appropriate activities may include a family picnic, simple gardening around the home or in the yard, washing dishes or even taking a walk with a family member.
It is imperative to keep an open line of communication with your loved ones when the signs of dementia begin to appear. You will also want to keep the same line of communication open with your family physician as these symptoms progress. Dementia is not an easy disorder to deal with, but if you prepare for the progression, it can be managed more easily for everyone.