My father is 79 and in his peak years, he was still a stubborn and difficult man. Dementia stages opened our eyes as a family to the experience up a hand.
To give you a little overview, my father was fairly a heavy smoker his entire life.
2009, what was supposed to be heart check-up turned in to open-heart surgery in a hospital in Calcutta.
What further followed was 31 days of coma with two surgeries, the open heart and the removal of half an inflamed right lung.
You can imagine the post operative recovery process lasted the family over three years. Within which we had to more hernia surgeries.
Dementia Stages & Surgery
Why did I go through all of this? Here is some perspective. Dementia stages don’t just show u and as per popular myth, it is not genetic either.
However, it is not a normal part of aging. It is a problem. Why? People don’t know, and the cure, there is none.
In 2014, a study found the following;
Relative to the control group, patients who underwent anaesthesia and surgery exhibited an increased risk of dementia (hazard ratio = 1.99) and a reduced mean interval to dementia diagnosis. The risk of dementia increased in patients who received intravenous or intramuscular anaesthesia, regional anaesthesia and general anaesthesia.The British Journal of Psychiatry
To read the full length of the study on the effect of surgeries and dementia click here.
Baba and Dementia | Things We Do
No wonder, Baba is different and harder to handle. My mother noticed the dementia stages sometime after the 6th month of his first surgery.
For a year the doctors brushed it off as a post surgical cognitive dysfunction. But, as we know it it. It was the early dementia stages.
Slowly, we lost dad to a new person every day, who knew lesser, remembered fewer. Knew smaller.
This is how it goes
Baba lost his ability to write been two years now. But, mobility is there. When I say family I mean me and my mother, during this covid_19 isolation.
While I am stuck in a different country.
So, how does a day look with a dementia patient who won’t give up and the dementia treatments are unavailable?
The truth is, we don’t know and we mostly just hope things don’t get back to worse.
Dad’s Dementia Stages | What to Look Out For
We were informed by our doctors that there are 7 categorzed stages of dementia.
Stage 1 – Zero Impairment
Here s where lost out on dad. We didn’t see the slight changes. The forgetfulness.
All his cognitive and mental functions were normal. His vitals were improving as per his post operative conditions.
They all start here.
Stage 2 – Very Mild Decline in Cognitive Functions
Now, these are just typical. Baba is 71, of course he forgot where he kept his car keys. Dementia stages were not even clear.
Yet, again we brushed off as age related problems.
Stage 3 – Mild Decline in Cognitive Functions
This is where we noticed. This is where I remember stopping and wondering, why is Baba repeating the same phrases.
Why is his thumb shaky? Is he going to faint, will he complete his sentence.
To come to think of it, these little things will not interfere with your day. But, it will be more prominent to friends and family.
Slowly, Baba couldn’t write anymore, his signatures stopped matching the accounts. And, he just never seemed to remember things we told him.
Leaving notes on the fridge became staple.
Stage 4 – This is Where He is now – Moderate Cognitive Decline
My father recently wandered off and went missing for two nights. Of course, we went crazy and filed a missing report.
But, here is the thing, this has happened before. His is moody. Oh so so moody. He is struggling in giving up the authority. and transiting in to old age.
Arguments, reasoning and resonating ae words long forgotten in our household.
My father has gone through an absolute social withdrawal. Being non-responsive hasn’t made it easier.
Stage 5 – Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
In short, we are told that Baba will eventually be here in a couple more years or even a year or two.
We are warned that he may start forgetting personal details and be confused with current details.
However, understanding such outcoes, is probably going to help us better prepare.
Stage 6 – Severe Cognitive Decline
Have you ever visited an Alzheimer’s patient residential or ward? Specifically, more than often, what your loved ones need is patience.
However, the idea that unconditional acceptance exists. They will need help with day to activities like using the bathroom and showering.
Stage 7 – Very Severe Cognitive Decline
Also, this is the last dementia stage that may take away the ability to walk and talk from your loved one. Institutional facilities and professional care giving at Alzheimer’s residential and hospitals are the options for you.
How Do We Do it Through Covid_19?
However, we take one day at a time. I try by educating my mother on dealing intimately with a dementia patient.
Since, my father wandered off during the lock down. We found him this morning.
As a result, in all our years here’s what I have personally learned in dealing with my father-
- Independence is key. The early stages are where we establish dignity and independence for our loved ones. Which keeps them closer, for later stages.
- It will not be easy. If you decide to keep your loved one home who battles dementia, then it will take an immense amount of sacrifice.
- It truly shows you what unadulterated acceptance is. It tests you every day.
- Build community support, reach out to Alzheimer’s associations and bodies that help you deal with your loved ones. It is okay to feel frustrated. But, we must remember, that love triumphs all chaos.
- Read. You would have to do a lot of reading to understand the nature of the dementia stages. However, there are enough credible sources through which we can remain mentally and physically prepared.
- Seek out therapy. You must take care of yourself in order to be of service to somebody else.
In either case here are some tips on handling anxiety.
Finally, I decided to share our family’s experience with dementia stages is to shed more light on this process. It is never easy and mostly we feel helpless.
However, the silver lining is always between the smiles wen pass on, the kind words we tell my father, and the hugs we give him.
Moreover, the medications are always doctor prescribed but we are warned that we can only delay the dementia symptoms but not stop it.
We as a family have made extensive routine chances to help my father. AS OF COURSE, EXPECTED.
It would be great to know how the rest of you are handling dementia stages in your loved ones, especially during such trying times.
Till then stay safe and #StayStrong