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Understanding Clients: The Stages of Dementia

Questions? Learn more about the senior care industry on our franchise website.

Many people who work in the senior care industry have had a personal experience with dementia, often seeing an elder loved one live with the disease and even take part in their share of the care.

What senior care business owners have learned firsthand is that dementia can progress slowly over the span of many years and over time care needs will change. In home care can be one solution for family members who need to maintain balance and well-being in their own lives as they support a loved one.

Understanding the Disease

Dementia is not a single disease, but rather is an overview term for a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social abilities to the point that the interfere with daily activities. Just because someone has memory loss doesn’t mean that they have dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, a head injury are among the other potential causes. The symptoms and progression—as well as needs for care--of the disease will vary depending on the cause and type.

In general, dementia progresses in stages and each stage can last years:

  1. Mild cognitive impairment, during which a person will become forgetful, tend to lose things, and this might appear to be typical age-related memory loss.
  2. Moderate dementia is when the disease becomes more pronounced in daily life as the individual begins to struggle with performing daily tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, or grooming. They might also become confused, agitated and have difficulty sleeping as forgetfulness increases.
  3. Severe dementia is the final stage of this incurable disease when a person can lose physical abilities such as walking, sitting, holding up their head, and communicating. Assistance may be needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Knowing How to Care

While there is no single formula for caring someone who is living through the stages of dementia, there are generally times during these stages for different types of care:

  1. During the mild or early stage of dementia, family caregivers can explore the various long-term care options in their community. This is a good time to research costs, visit facilities, join support groups, and even hire in home care to see how it feels to both the caregiver and care receiver.
  2. During the moderate stage of dementia, family caregivers can begin to wear out and this is when the research has paid off. A family caregiver can hire professional in home caregivers just so they can still maintain their own routines and health.
  3. The final stage of dementia can be physically demanding and either a time to increase the number of hours for professional care in the home or, if the individual needs to move to an assisted living home, the professional caregivers can decrease their hours but still be part of the care team in the new setting.

When considering investment in a home care franchise business, it's good to know who will need the services and for how long. Each client is unique and services can be adapted as needs change.

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