Pricing & Availability: 888-434-4648
Pricing & Availability: 888-434-4648

Discover Your Local Sunrise

Find a Sunrise

Book a Tour

Please enter your full name

Preferred Date

Preferred Tour Times

Understanding the Early Stages of Dementia: A Caregiver's Guide

We’ll explore how caregivers can best serve those living with early-stage dementia.

There are currently 55 million people living with dementia worldwide, and this number is expected to rise to about 139 million by 2025. At its core, dementia is recognized as a loss of memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking-related abilities that are strong enough to interfere in day-to-day life. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.


The symptoms of early-stage dementia can be evident in many ways, including:

  •    Memory loss disrupts daily life
  •    It’s difficult to complete familiar tasks
  •    There’s confusion with time or place
  •    New problems with speaking and writing begin to occur

Caregivers of loved ones in the early stages of dementia often experience increased anxiety, depression, work conflicts, exhaustion, less leisure time, and even financial strain. In this article, we’re going to explore how caregivers can best serve those with early-stage dementia, especially with the invaluable support from memory care providers like Sunrise Senior Living.


Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia


When dementia is in its early phases, it can present as general forgetfulness, confusion over daily routines, and difficulty completing simple tasks. Emotional and behavioral changes are hard to ignore in the early stages of dementia, with people displaying uncharacteristic mood fluctuations, social withdrawal, and even changes in personality—such as being more restless, demanding, upset, and even suspicious.


Essential Caregiving Tips for Early-Stage Dementia


Naturally, the safety and comfort of your loved one is your top priority during your Alzheimer’s and dementia care journey. When the early stages of dementia begin to present, one of the first recommendations is to dementia-proof your home. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as:

  •    Taping cords to baseboards to avoid tripping
  •    Reducing the use of area rugs and reduce uneven flooring
  •    Covering unused electrical outlets with childproof plugs
  •    Placing an alarm on their bedroom door and doors exiting the home if they begin wandering at night

Your way of communicating may change a bit in the beginning, as you’ll find you need to state messages very clearly by using simple words and short sentences in a reassuring tone. You also want to ask simple, answerable questions rather than complex ones. It’s helpful to give them time to respond as it may take them longer to process information. Approach activities in a series of steps to avoid confusion. Finally, setting a daily routine will help your loved one know what to expect and, more importantly, feel more independent.


Supporting Emotional Well-Being


Social interaction is a critical aspect of Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Ensuring your loved one is engaging in conversations and activities with others will cultivate cognitive stimulation. Taking part in uplifting activities such as listening to beloved music and having contact with babies, kids, or animals often sparks good feelings.


People with early-stage dementia and moderate dementia can have excellent memories of past events—so taking time to look through old photo albums and other memorabilia is a great way to reflect on fond times.


Memory lapses can cause people to experience delusions and emotional changes, which can be challenging. Some helpful tips include:

  •    Ensure you don’t ignore mood changes altogether and instead, try to be patient and understanding
  •    Identify the trigger of the emotional fluctuation—which could be anything from loud noises to an aversion to bright lights
  •    Move your loved one into a calm and safe environment

The Role of Memory Care in Early-Stage Dementia


Quality memory care provides a compassionate and secure setting for those with dementia. It also offers ongoing social engagement and physical activities, both of which are known to slow down the progression of the disease.


Sunrise’s memory care neighborhoods can give peace of mind to caregivers by providing personalized care and thoughtful programming within intimate settings. Sunrise provides individualized care plans, a secure environment, and trained team members that make its memory care communities feel like home.


While it’s a personal choice and different for many, signs that it may be time to transition into a memory care community might include:

  •    Not paying bills
  •    Losing track of the passage of time
  •    An inability to take care of their health
  •    Feeling unsafe in their current environment
  •    Neglecting personal hygiene and housekeeping
  •    Withdrawing from hobbies and social situations
  •    Difficulty with safe navigation (getting lost when walking or driving)
  •    Lack of safety awareness (leaving the stove or oven on, forgetting to turn the water off, not discarding old food)

How Sunrise Senior Living Can Help with Early-Stage Dementia


Sunrise provides expert, compassionate memory care services. Our team members receive specialized dementia training and certifications, including memory care training that’s been reviewed and approved by the Alzheimer’s Association.


Sunrise communities may also offer Terrace Club neighborhoods and programs geared specifically toward older adults experiencing the early stages of dementia and moderate memory loss. Residents in these programs benefit from:

  •    Personalized programming that brings meaning and joy
  •    Care and programs rooted in the latest research
  •    Activities and social events that foster connections and engagement

As residents may begin displaying moderate dementia and advanced memory loss (sometimes caused by Alzheimer’s disease), they can benefit from Sunrise’s Reminiscence Program. In our secure Reminiscence neighborhoods, residents receive a higher level of individualized care, as well as:

  •    Holistic, consistent care from Designated Care Managers
  •    Life Enrichment Managers who know residents on a personal level and plan individualized activities for each resident
  •    Nursing services in a soothing, peaceful environment
  •    Compassionate pain and medication management

Our memory care residents are encouraged to talk about favorite memories like getting married, raising children, and highlights of their professional career. Examples of programs offered for residents include:

  •    Painting
  •    Music-focused activities
  •    Physical fitness
  •    Gardening
  •    Social based, cognitively stimulating activities
  •    Flower arranging
  •    Reflection and meditation

With Sunrise’s dedicated team members in such an intimate environment, memory care residents benefit from small-group programming, nutritious cuisine, personalized attention, and, most importantly, the chance to enjoy more meaningful days.


Compassionate Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living


Loving and caring for someone in the early stages of dementia can be challenging, and it’s important to recognize the beginning signs as well as how to navigate a new normal. By dementia-proofing the house, setting an organized schedule for your loved one, and implementing techniques on how to handle changes in emotions, your stress as a caregiver is better managed.


When the time comes, supporting a move to a memory care community can be one of the best actions you can take to help ensure their holistic well-being. That way, you can have the peace of mind knowing your loved one is getting the best care and attention possible.


For more resources on Alzheimer’s and dementia care, visit Sunrise’s extensive library of articles, podcasts, information, and invaluable caregiving advice.


You can also find a Sunrise community near you to explore your memory care options.

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living

Looking to learn more? 

We would love to help guide you on your senior living journey. Fill out the form and one of our senior living experts will be in touch within 24 hours to discuss any questions you have.

Preferred Date

Preferred Tour Times