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“How severe is this?”

The following is designed to help you know what to expect and assess the potential severity of dementia.

What are the stages of dementia?

Mild or early-stage dementia
Moderate or mid-stage dementia
Severe or late-stage dementia
How to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s
Use an emotional approach (not logical) to engage an Alzheimer’s patient. It can make it easier to diffuse or prevent tough situations — and engage the patient in productive behavior. Dementia mainly impacts the top portion of the brain, the part of the brain involved in logic. The emotional brain is normal. So, while you might be inclined to rely on logic, the best approach is often to sit down next to them, touch them, and tell them why you’re worried.
Change your communication style:
  • Validate by using visual cues
  • Resist the urge to tell them what they should do and instead demonstrate the task
  • Keep your body in a supportive stance, and speak in a caring tone, to minimize the likelihood that the person will feel threatened or put on the spot
  • Allow space for verbal discomfort without reacting to harsher comments and be willing to offer a genuine apology if they feel upset

Simple ways to provide support through the stages of dementia

Over time, you can expect that a loved one with dementia may struggle to organize their words, lose their train of thought, or speak less. To continue being supportive, you can:

  • Be present: Let your loved one know you’re listening and trying to understand. Keep your voice gentle. Hold the person’s hand while you talk.
  • Show respect: Offer your loved one undivided attention, don’t multi-task. Include your loved one in conversations, don’t talk about them as if they aren’t there.
  • Position yourself: Be close enough to be heard and seen clearly. Sit or stand at the same level, rather than over them.
  • Keep it simple: Use short sentences. Ask one question or offer one instruction at a time. It helps to use positive statements.
  • Focus on feelings: Listen for the meaning behind the words. Their tone or body language may provide clues. Respond to the emotions.
  • Watch your tone and manner: Use friendly facial expressions and non-verbal communication that conveys calm. People with dementia responds to others’ moods.