Deterioration and severe dementia

It is not really possible at any time to predict how much one person’s dementia will progress, let alone how fast or slowly this will happen. Of the people we spoke with, the journey for each person living with dementia has varied. Some people spoke to us of supporting a working age person in their 50s while others later in life, up to their 90s. What was most important to people was finding ways to enable a person living with dementia to live well and as best they can.

Some people described the progression of dementia as gradual, while others described peaks and valleys to describe good days and bad ones. For most people, the person living with dementia takes medication which made a difference to slow the progression of the symptoms.

Music in particular provided a form of expression and therapy for people living with dementia. People told us it acted as a form of communication, particularly for people who could no longer speak. It calmed the mood and reduced anxiety, while other people simply enjoyed music, both listening to it and singing together.

Describes the contact they had through music despite his wifes increasing dementia.

Age at interview 78

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 68

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One person noticed that while her husband continued to appreciate music, his taste seemed to have reverted from classical music to the kind of things he used to like when he was younger- big bands, Ivor Novello, Operetta. Another was impressed by her partner’s continued ability to improvise on the piano and felt that he was able to use this to express his feelings of anger and frustration. Another person talked about music as therapy to help her sister-in-law who could no longer speak.

Continued to be able to improvise on the piano and use it as an expression of his mood.

Age at interview 62

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 50

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Severe dementia can be challenging for the person supporting the person living with dementia; daily activities can begin to pose challenges to dress, wash, eat, drink and toileting. One person described his concern for the feelings that his partner might be having as she became dependent on his support. Another person talked about needing to instruct his partner for her to conduct daily activities.

While he struggles to dress his wife he reflects on what her feelings might be about her total dependency.

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 69

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