One of the first questions in most people’s minds when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia is exactly what can be expected in the weeks, months, and years to come. We know that the unmistakable sign of dementia is the increasing decline in cognitive abilities and also the skills required to manage everyday life. Yet, each individual progresses through these changes at a different pace. There are lots of factors that can impact the way dementia progresses and the rate of decline, including:
- Medications a senior loved one is taking
- General health and physical makeup
- The system of support available
- The individual’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience
There are additional determinants to factor in based upon the specific type of dementia diagnosed. As an example:
- MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment effects up to twenty percent of seniors. More than the normal minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves difficulties with language, judgment, thinking, and memory which are apparent to the older adult individually and often to others as well. Researchers discovered that about 38% of seniors with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in some instances, their condition actually improved, for unidentified reasons. Indications of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability and aggression, and others.
- Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is a result of a blockage in blood flow to the brain, the kind of blockage will affect the development of the disease. If small blood vessels are blocked, for instance, the decline will typically occur gradually. Major blood vessel blockage can cause a rapid onset of symptoms, followed by intense periods of change thereafter.
- Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but might also consist of widely varying levels of attention and alertness in the early stages. One day might find the senior lucid, while the following day – and even several hours later – could bring hallucinations, confusion, and memory loss. In the late stages of the disease, restlessness, agitation, aggression, tremors, and stiffness become more common.
- Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is typically not impacted during the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, for example, distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease advances, difficulties with language become noticeable as well, along with memory loss, vision problems, as well as other typical symptoms observed in Alzheimer’s disease.
Reach out to the care team at JFS Care for more informative resources that will help you better understand the way dementia progresses and care for someone you love with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. We are also always here to help with compassionate, creative care to help make life more satisfying for a senior loved one with dementia, and to help family members achieve an improved life balance. Contact us online or call us at 213-383-2273 to learn more about our home care in Burbank and nearby communities.