The middle stages of dementia can last for many years. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses an individual will become more dependant on you for help.
During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, problems with showering, toileting, eating and dressing start to develop. Assisting with everyday tasks can take a toll on caregivers and you may find yourself seeking outside help.
The middle stages of dementia is also a period when changes in personality, mood and behaviour emerge. These behaviours can be distressing, not only for the individual living with Alzheimer’s but those around them.
During the middles stage of dementia memory loss becomes more apparent and affects daily life. Common problems experienced during the middle stages of dementia include:
- Problems with daily tasks like dressing, going to the toilet, preparing and eating a meal.
- Forgets names of familiar faces and recent events. Disorientated to time and place.
- Less able to concentrate and complete a task. Problems following instructions or learning a new concept.
- Problems with sleep, wandering, increased agitation and getting lost in familiar places.
- Difficulty organising thoughts and expressing needs. Problems understanding written and verbal language.
- Changes in mood, personality and behaviour. Apathy, anger, suspicion and withdrawal.
- Hallucinations and delusions (seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting things that aren’t there).
- Repetitive questioning or actions.
Coping with changed behaviours can be distressing for many caregivers. The best approach is to try to figure out why a person is acting in a certain way. Dementia can be scary, especially when you lose the ability to express your thoughts and needs.
When unusual behaviours emerge, think to yourself, is the person hot, cold, hungry or thirsty? Do they need to go the toilet? Or are they simply looking for some reassurance and comfort.
Knowing how to respond to these changes and why they’re occurring can help you prevent many behaviours and manage the situation calmly.
Helping someone with personal hygiene tasks can also take some time to get used to. Learning caregiving skills will make your role easier and a person with dementia feel safe and supported.
Keep in mind behavioural symptoms can be associated with a variety of factors, not just the progression of dementia. Any sudden change in behaviour could be related to pain, medications, infection or an underlying health condition.
Always talk to your doctor about any concerns you have over a loved one’s behaviour. Learning how to manage changes in behaviour can make your role as a caregiver less stressful.
Services like home care and day centres can give you some respite from the caregiver role. It’s a good idea to find out what services are available in your area so you’re prepared for the future. People living with dementia will also benefit from organised activities and the companionship of others.