No one is ready to hear the news that they or their loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Families faced with caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed can feel overwhelmed and anxious about how the disease will progress in their loved one’s life.  By understanding and being prepared for the stages of Alzheimer’s the patient and their loved ones can take control of the situation and ensure that the most appropriate measures are being considered for their care.  Here is what you may need to know about the stages of care and Alzheimer’s disease:

Alzheimer’s symptoms usually manifest after the brain has already been through significant changes.  Therefore, a person may be in a very early stage of this disease and not show symptoms for years.  Once the symptoms begin, the disease will progress over time, but the rate will depend on the individual and their circumstances.  However, there are general stages a person with Alzheimer’s may go through.

The Stages of Care

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease ordinarily progresses slowly in three general stages.  The first stage, mild, is early.  The second or middle stage is considered moderate and the third or late stage is severe.   However, these stages may coincide and can vary widely from person to person.

Mild Stage

In the first or mild stage, the individual may be able to continue living independently and manage their care.  However, they may have a difficult time keeping their thoughts organized and begin to exhibit problems with remembering ordinary words or names.   At this point, there may be noticeable changes to the person’s memory functions but not necessarily to their ability to manage their usual daily tasks.  Consulting with a physician will be necessary to assess a person’s functioning at this stage accurately.

Moderate Stage

The moderate stage tends to be the longest stage of the disease and can last for several years.  During this time the person will be forgetful but may also show signs of emotional distress as they experience deeper confusion and memory loss regarding themselves and their surroundings.  People who have moderate Alzheimer’s typically have problems with maintaining their hygiene and self-care and may begin to wander away from their homes or other formerly recognizable places out of confusion.  At this point, many require increased care such as that provided by an in-home attendant, memory day center, or assisted living facility.

Severe Stage

The severe stage occurs when the disease has reached the point that the person is no longer able to interact with the world around them coherently.   The person may also lose their ability to use some of their physical functions and will require constant care to get their physical, medical, and emotional needs met and remain safe.  The person’s requirements will be significant and usually must be met in a specialized nursing home or assisted living setting.

Caring for yourself or someone you love who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is a painful and difficult process.  By knowing what is to come, you can be ready to obtain the care which will be critical in providing adequate care.  We understand the hardships families face in these circumstances and can help you plan.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance. 

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