Planning for dementia care can be stressful and overwhelming. Over time, dementia symptoms get worse and difficult behaviors often aggravate. The level of care your loved one needs will change as their disease progresses. Although you can’t change your parent’s diagnosis, you can take steps to keep them as healthy and safe as possible by planning ahead.
Learn about the symptoms and type of care needed in the early, middle, and late stages of dementia. Understanding what to expect can help you develop a dementia care plan that allows you to make thoughtful decisions before emergencies arise.
During the beginning stages of dementia, most people can function independently. Your loved one may be able to do many of the activities they’ve always done, such as driving, volunteering, and attending social events.
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You may feel uncertain about how much support your parent needs in the early stages of dementia. While most people are able to perform simple activities of daily living (ADLs), more complex tasks — such as managing a budget or learning how to use new technology — may be more difficult. Memory problems and cognitive impairment may also become more persistent.
You can support your parent at the beginning stages of dementia by taking certain steps:
Developing a dementia care plan becomes even more important as your loved one’s disease progresses. Middle-stage dementia symptoms worsen as damage to brain cells continues.
Your parent with middle-stage dementia may need help with:
If you live with someone in the middle stages of dementia, you’ve likely taken on more responsibility for their care by now. This may be a good time to evaluate whether you need additional support to help ensure their health and safety. It’s also important to consider your own physical and mental health, the financial burdens that come with caregiving, and how it will affect your family, social, and work life.
You may want to consider care and support options such as:
Late-stage dementia symptoms continue to worsen as the disease progresses. At this stage, it’s no longer safe to leave your loved one alone — they’ll need 24-hour assistance and supervision.
In addition to full-time help with daily care, your parent may:
This is a difficult time for caregivers and family, who often need to make care decisions while also dealing with feelings of sadness and grief. Preserving quality of life is a key goal for those with end-stage dementia. During this time, hospice care can be helpful for families.
Hospice care can be provided at home, at a hospice facility, at a nursing home, at a hospital, or often at an assisted living or memory care community. It focuses on keeping your loved one with dementia as comfortable as possible while providing support to the family.
If you need help planning for dementia care, contact one of our Senior Living Advisors. They can help you think through your loved one’s care needs, your expectations for care, and the types of care available to find the right solution for your family.
National Institute on Aging. “End-of-life care for people with dementia.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/end-life-care-people-dementia.
National Institute on Aging. “Tips for living alone with early-stage dementia.” https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/tips-living-alone-early-stage-dementia.
Angelike Gaunt is a content strategist at A Place for Mom. She’s developed health content for consumers and medical professionals at major health care organizations, including Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the University of Kansas Health System. She’s passionate about developing accessible content to simplify complex health topics.