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Constant Change: Prepare for the Unexpected

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, their family and in home caregiver has to prepare for the unexpected. Like a child’s developmental milestones in reverse, dementia never stands still because the chemicals in the brain are changing from moment to moment.

As dementia advances, it diminishes the person’s ability to think and interact with the world. A person with dementia will progress from short-term memory lapse to complete loss of function—all in a span of several years. Although there are anticipated stages of dementia, the behaviors that accompany these stages – including confusion, fear, delusions and hallucinations, anger, and decreasing capacity to perform daily functions such as going to the bathroom, eating and sleeping – can differ from day to day.

As they lose their ability to understand and communicate, family members and caregivers might develop skills to interpret behaviors, but must remain flexible. What one day indicated fear in a person with dementia, may signal something different the next day; or a task that your loved one enjoyed doing on Sunday could cause them great agitation on Tuesday.

In other words, when trying to provide the best home health care for a loved one with dementia everyone involved should continually adjust their expectations.