Recognizing and Understanding Each Stage of Alzheimer’s
Although Alzheimer’s is a degenerative illness, it doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. There are essentially three stages of Alzheimer’s: the early/mild stage, the middle/moderate stage, and final/severe stage. Although there are three definitive stages, the progression of Alzheimer’s is different for each individual case with every senior experiencing symptoms at his or her own rate. There are, however, key indicators that will provide insight as to what stage a senior with Alzheimer’s has entered. With that knowledge in mind, an at-home caregiver can take the next steps in providing the necessary care for that particular stage.
First Stage: Subtle Changes and Lack of Focus
When someone is diagnosed in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, he or she will most likely be functioning quite normally. Your loved one may still conduct daily activities with ease, but may also notice subtle changes in memory and ability to concentrate. Other common signs include the inability to think of the right word or misplacing everyday objects. It’s quite common to misread these symptoms and mistake them for the signs of aging, but it helps to veer on the side of caution. Early detection of Alzheimer’s cannot prevent the disease from progressing, but it can afford your loved one the opportunity to live longer with the disease and make plans for the future.
Second Stage: Wandering, Confusion, and Emotional Changes
The moderate stage of Alzheimer’s is typically the longest, and seniors with Alzheimer’s can live with this stage for anywhere from 2 to 10 years entering the severe stage. With this stage comes a multitude of changes, such as a decreasing ability to recall personal details or difficulty using everyday objects such as the telephone or oven. Seniors in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s can also experience uncontrollable bladder or bowel issues and will likely begin to wander restlessly—your loved one may even get lost. Other major changes can include mood swings, compulsive repetition of activities, and unusual sleeping patterns. You may notice that he or she is irritable and withdrawn or becomes easily frustrated in challenging situations and cannot communicate feelings clearly. At this stage, your loved one will require more attentive home care in Cincinnati and supervision when performing important tasks such as paying bills, remembering medications, or signing legal documents.
Final Stage: Immobility and Inability to Communicate
By the last stage of Alzheimer’s, seniors will likely lose their ability to communicate altogether. It is also likely that they will lose motor function such as the ability to walk, talk, or swallow. Your loved one will require around-the-clock care to ensure all personal, nutritional, and hygienic needs are being met. Seniors in this stage of Alzheimer’s are also very susceptible to illnesses and infections. Depending on the severity of your loved one’s condition, he or she would most likely benefit from either an in-home caregiver or a care facility. These resources are essential as they are equipped to assist both the patient and their families through the final stage of this disease and are available 24 hours a day.
An early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be incredibly beneficial for a senior as knowing is essentially half the battle. If your senior loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care Cincinnati families trust. Call a dedicated Care Manager today at 513.891.2273 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.