What is stage 4 dementia and how long does it last?

A fellow caregiver asked...

He forgets instantly and long term is not good but he is still social. He was told last week he can no longer drive, he was annoyed just because I could not answer a few questions who is he to tell me what does memory have to do with driving. I just let him blow off steam we will see if he goes back to the dr.? What does stage 4 mean? I think that is where he is.

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

According to the Alzheimer's Association stage 4 is the following:

Moderate cognitive decline (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease) At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas:

  • Forgetfulness of recent events
  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic "” for example, counting backward from 100 by 7s
  • Greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills or managing finances
  • Forgetfulness about one's own personal history
  • Becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

What is IMPORTANT at this stage is to help him LIVE with the symptoms he is showing. Some of the ways to do this is first , DO NOT ARGUE with him. He is aware that something is wrong and now has lost the ility to drive so his "manhood" is being threatened and he needs to be "right". So, try to give him as many compliments on what he still can do. For instance if he cannot drive could he hold a GPS for you and "help" you get places (even if you know the way) or sort some coupons to help you save money.

Write things down for him as reminders and support his frustration.
Let him know that you read something about some medication that can help his memory or get the doctors office to write him a letter telling him it is time for his physical. It is very important that he sees a physician that specializes in dementia so that other reversible causes are ruled out and that if it is early Alzheimer's disease he can get on some medication. And, join a support groups the association usually has groups for caregivers as well as people with early memory loss.

And hug him...as a matter of fact give him one from me!