The development of Alzheimer’s disease tends to be slow and gradual as it worsens over time. Although the rate at which the disease progression is different in each individual, they experience the three levels of Alzheimer’s: Mild, Moderate, and Severe.
Understanding different stages of Alzheimer’s helps you identify the symptoms associated with each stage. You will be able to make better care decisions for your loved ones.
Related Article: Home Care Services: Dementia Care
The three levels are further broken down into seven stages.
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
In this stage, patients do not have any signs of memory impairment or evidence of dementia symptoms.
It is difficult to spot any symptoms at this stage; however, Alzheimer’s disease could have started silently with brain changes even before any noticeable problems.
Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Changes
Although you may not notice something is wrong with your loved one’s behavior, they might start to show symptoms like forgetfulness. Such symptoms might be related to old age and it can be difficult to suspect that they have Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms at this stage do not affect their ability to engage in activities of daily living or working independently. Other common symptoms might include forgetting names or misplacing familiar objects.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
At this stage, you start to see changes in your loved one’s reasoning and thinking. Most patients are diagnosed at this stage because their daily routine is more disrupted.
Common symptoms at this stage include difficulties remembering memories of recent events, plans, and organizing, finding retrieving a name or word difficult, and challenges in their work or social setting.
It is estimated that these symptoms might last for a period of two to seven years, depending on the individual.
One you can help your loved one is by making personal reminders especially on important appointments or commitments such as paying bills or doctor appointments. For those at work, suggest retirement or taking up less work at a given time to ease the stress.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
Problems in reasoning and thinking become obvious at this age and other issues begin to appear. Although they can still remember significant details about their lives, they will experience major memory difficulties. Memories of the distant past could be significantly better than recent information from an earlier conversation or news.
Challenges at this stage include confusion, increased wandering off or getting lost, changes in their sleep patterns, and difficulties in making obvious choices like appropriate clothing for an occasion or weather. This stage lasts for two years.
At this stage, your loved one cannot live alone, manage finances, or travel alone, so you might consider a professional caregiver to help them with activities of daily living.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
Significant memory deficiencies present themselves at this stage and more reinforcement is required with activities of daily living. They may struggle with activities such as bathing, preparing meals, and dressing.
Trouble remembering important things like their phone number or address could be experienced at this stage. Confusion is common as they start experiencing emotional changes such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. It is estimated that this stage lasts for 1.5 years.
While most people might consider taking their loved on to an assisted living facility, there are some benefits of home care for Alzheimer’s patients that can help you make a sound decision.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
Communication at this stage becomes difficult even though they may still use phrases or words. It becomes challenging for them to communicate specific thoughts especially when they are experiencing pain.
Personality changes continue to occur with increased paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, and delusions. Their independence continues to decrease and they can be easily angered by anything or anyone. This stage lasts about 2.5 years.
Communication strategies for Alzheimer’s patients can help improve communication and allow them to express themselves better.
Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
Most of your loved one’s basic abilities such as walking, eating, and sitting up fade at this stage. Their ability to communicate is lost and they require around-the-clock care for most of their activities.
Loss of motor skills is common at this stage as well as loss of bladder or bowel control. They are often unaware of their surroundings and susceptible to infections such as pneumonia as Alzheimer’s destroys their brain cells.
ASSISTANCE, CARE AND SUPPORT
Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging. If you find yourself overwhelmed with daily needs and decisions, you might consider professional options for Alzheimer’s care in Winchester.
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