Plan Ahead as Dementia Progresses


Submitted by Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are progressive diseases, meaning that, as time goes on, the disease will likely get worse. Not everyone living with dementia will experience it in exactly the same way, and the rate at which the disease progresses varies from person to person. Changes in the brain which lead to dementia may be going on for many years before any symptoms are present. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s will live four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years. 

Early stage 

People in the early stages of dementia can usually still function independently, but will likely experience some memory loss, with short-term memory usually the first to be affected. This may include such things as being unable to recall the name of a movie they’ve just seen or a person they’ve just been introduced to. They may also find that routine activities become more difficult or take longer to do. A person in the early stages of dementia may show a lack of judgment, being persuaded to do something they normally wouldn’t consider. They may experience personality changes, such as becoming more withdrawn, anxious, or easily upset. 

Middle stage

As the disease progresses, memory loss becomes more pronounced. A person in this stage of the disease may forget certain aspects of their own personal history, such as the name of the college they attended or their telephone number. They may be confused about what day it is. This can lead to greater anxiety, anger, and/or depression, causing the person to withdraw from social situations. Physically, the person may experience a change in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and/or becoming agitated at night. They may require more help with daily activities, such as dressing, grooming, and bathing.

Late stage

In the final stage of the disease, people often experience a complete lack of awareness of their environment, not recognizing where they are or their family members and friends. They may experience incontinence, swallowing problems, and a loss of motor skills. They will likely become more susceptible to infections, especially pneumonia. They will almost certainly require round-the-clock care to ensure their health and safety.

While receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia is devastating, knowing what possible changes are coming can help both people living with dementia and their families plan ahead and prepare for the care they’ll need down the road.

Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center is the leader in memory care services in central Illinois. They are located at 505 East Vernon Avenue, Normal, Illinois. They offer specialized care to those who are experiencing the challenges of Dementia and Alzheimer. If you need to set up an appointment or have any questions please call 309-451-3000 or go to


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