Diagnosed with Dementia: Understanding the Progression a Loved One May Face

Female home carer hugging senior male patient at care home

Our dementia care team provides support for those diagnosed with dementia.

Among the first questions in most people’s minds when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia is precisely what to anticipate in the time to come. We understand that the hallmark of dementia is the increasing decline in cognitive abilities as well as the skills needed to take care of day-to-day life activities. Yet every person progresses through these changes at a different pace. There are lots of factors that can influence the rate of decline, such as:

  • Prescribed medicines a senior is taking
  • General health and physical makeup
  • The system of support available
  • The person’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience

There are also other determinants to take into account based on the type of dementia diagnosed. For example:

  • MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment impacts up to 20% of older adults. More than the standard minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves problems with language, judgment, thinking, and memory which are obvious to the older adult and often to others as well. Researchers discovered that about 38% of older adults with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in a number of instances, their condition actually improved, for unidentified reasons. Signs of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability and aggression, and others.
  • Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is due to a blockage in blood flow to the brain, the kind of blockage will influence the progression of the disease. For example, if small blood vessels are blocked, the decline will typically occur gradually. Major blood vessel blockage may cause a sudden onset of symptoms, followed by intense periods of change thereafter.
  • Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but might also include widely differing levels of attention and alertness during the early stages. One day could find the individual lucid, while the following day – or even several hours later – could bring confusion, hallucinations, and memory loss. In the late stages of the disease, restlessness, agitation, aggression, tremors, and stiffness are more prevalent.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other types of dementia, short-term memory is frequently not impacted in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Rather, early symptoms include behavioral changes, such as distraction, apathy, rudeness, and disregard for social norms. As the disease progresses, problems with language become noticeable as well, in addition to memory loss, vision problems, and other typical symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Get in touch with the dementia care team at CareWorks Health Services for additional informative resources that will help you better understand and care for someone you love with dementia. We’re also always available to assist with compassionate, creative care to help make life more fulfilling for a senior with dementia, and to help family members achieve a better life balance. For more information on why CareWorks Health Services is the preferred choice for senior care in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas, contact us at (949) 859-4700 today!