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14 Sep 2020

Amber Gem: Mid-Stage Dementia


Topics: Alzheimers, Dementia

Amber, the third stage in our Senior Gems scale, represents mid-stage to late dementia.

An Amber was chosen because it's the least stable and sturdy. Using driving as an example, during the stop light sequence yellow means “slow down.” We must slow down when speaking to an Amber and when doing activities.

Some basic characteristics of an Amber include but are not limited to:

  • Hypersensitive in the four main sensory spots: lips/tongue/mouth, palms/fingers, soles of feet, and genitalia
  • This can be a difficult time for families; they become embarrassed by behaviours
  • Will get into things; need to have sensation in the four main sensory spots
  • Visual field is getting smaller and speech can be difficult to understand

As dementia progresses, you'll need to adjust your approach to communicating with your loved one. Because complicated verbal interactions are not going to be successful, here are some best practices for you and your family to follow:

  • Use a friendly, warm and adult tone. Never speak to them as though they're a child. Although their needs are changing, they are still adults who deserve to be treated as such.
  • Convey your message in as few words as possible and allow time after you speak for them to process the information and respond.
  • You should keep speech short and uncomplicated.
  • Match the things you're saying with visual cues, this will help if they're struggling to understand your speech. If you sense they're are becoming frustrated, take a break.
  • At this stage their behaviours cannot change and therefore it's  to you to change yours to maintain the most effective communication possible.

Why are Ambers so driven by ‘sensory needs’ and triggered by sensory intolerance?

As the brain loses more function due to dementia advancing language, reasoning and memory skills are being lost. Your loved one is losing the ability to process complex skills and is becoming more dependent on the primary senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) to try and figure out the world around them and to cope with life and activities.

They have difficulty comprehending the complex reasoning of who, what, where, when, and how. For them, there may not be a beginning or an end but simply an experience that's happening.

At this stage four areas become hyper sensitive to sensation: lips/tongue, finger tips/palms, soles of feet/toes, and genitalia. They may not like you to touch those areas but they may over-stimulate themselves because it feels good.

It's critical the correct sequence for cues are used whenever possible if needing to care for your loved one in an acceptable way.

For more information call Senior Helpers today to get the help your loved one and family need today.

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Don't forget to learn more in this series by reading parts I and II below:

Part 2: Emerald Gem:Early to Mid-Stage Dementia

Part 1: Senior Gems: Sapphire and Diamond