Understanding the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the U.S. alone, statistics show that some five million people aged 65 or over are affected by Alzheimer’s.
Because people cope with Alzheimer’s disease differently and the stages of progression can vary, it is important to understand that this timeline may alter depending on each individual.
Home Care Assistance Dayton explains the seven stages of Alzheimer’s, so families can assess the care needs of their senior loved ones.
Early Impairment – Stage 1
Many individuals aren’t diagnosed during this stage of Alzheimer’s disease because their memory and cognitive skills seem unimpaired and unchanged. This stage is characterized by subtle changes in memory, reasoning and judgment. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience more problems with these abilities.
At Stage 1, seniors may misplace items and experience short-term memory loss, but otherwise there are few symptoms to implicate Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors can experience the first stage of Alzheimer’s for any number of years before it progresses, and it can be difficult to spot.
Although the symptoms of this disease may not show up for many years, you and your family can take steps today to slow its progression. One way you can do this is by learning about and applying our unique approach to home care, our Balanced Care Method™. By building healthy habits, you can help your loved one slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and even improve their quality of life.
Normal Forgetfulness – Stage 2
Identifying the difference between normal forgetfulness and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease is important, as the two are not the same.
Oftentimes, this stage also goes unrecognized because it is often confused with normal signs of aging. About half of people over age 65 have some difficulty with forgetfulness and word recall, and this can be a normal byproduct of old age. Even medical professionals have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between aging and AD. As with the first stage of Alzheimer’s, seniors can live with the second stage for many years before the disease advances.
Normal forgetfulness can even be caused by stress, anxiety, or poor sleeping habits. However, if you notice that your loved one has been forgetting things more frequently than usual over a period of time (a few weeks), then perhaps it’s time to take action.
Early Confusion – Stage 3
During this stage, the signs of Alzheimer’s become much more noticeable, though many seniors discount these symptoms as simply getting older. It’s common for elderly people to feel embarrassed by the symptoms and do their best to cover up the issues.
Be observant of your senior loved one, and try to assess how well they understand what is going on around them. At this stage, seniors have difficulty with planning and organizing. They may also have trouble recalling fairly normal words or retaining new information, and depression is quite common. This stage of early confusion generally lasts between two and seven years.
If you are worried about your senior loved one and their safety at home, you may consider hiring some additional help around the home. Here at Home Care Assistance of Dayton, our specialized Memory Care professionals are experienced in working with seniors living with these conditions and can help your loved one maintain their independence while also providing them with the support they need to live comfortably at home.
Late Confusion – Stage 4
Alzheimer’s signs are most noticeable during the late confusion stage.
Recent conversations are often forgotten, and the person with Alzheimer’s may forget where they are, who you are, or what they were supposed to do, although most people still recognize their families and remember major life events.
During this stage, seniors have trouble with sequential tasks such as driving, cooking, and doing chores. This might seem harmless at first glance, but in reality, these tasks could potentially put your senior loved one in harm’s way. This stage often lasts for about two years.
Early Dementia – Stage 5
During this stage, in-home assistance from Dayton caregivers is usually required. Our caregivers who specialize in Memory Care are trained to help seniors who have already been diagnosed with dementia. Our caregivers can assist with daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They also provide companionship for your loved one so that they aren’t left alone for long periods of time.
In addition to struggling with daily tasks, a senior with early dementia may have difficulty remembering important information like home address, personal allergies, or emergency phone numbers. Seniors often become disoriented and struggle with personal care, which can lead to accidents such as falls. As a result, home care is a useful option for them.
This stage usually lasts between one and two years.
Middle Dementia – Stage 6
People with middle-stage dementia experience severe cognitive and mental decline. At this stage, seniors often have trouble understanding current events or remembering both long and short-term matters.
Individuals may not remember who close family members are, but can usually identify that the person is familiar. Dramatic personality changes such as irritability, hallucinations, and suspicion of loved ones may occur during this stage. This stage lasts about two-and-a-half years.
Late Dementia/Failure to Thrive – Stage 7
During this final phase of Alzheimer’s disease, caring for a senior loved one can be extremely challenging.
As a result of this final stage, speech becomes limited or impossible for the senior, and understanding of basic movements such as walking or sitting may be limited or entirely gone. This is when round-the-clock care is needed for all daily care functions.
Generally, the length of this stage is based largely on the quality of care a senior receives, but it can last one or two years.
One thing families can do to feel in control of a loved one’s health is to learn about the progression of Alzheimer’s and make care plans early on so they can focus on enjoying time with their loved ones. Let Home Care Assistance help your loved one through each stage of the disease with our reliable Alzheimer’s care in Dayton. Our compassionate caregivers will monitor your loved one’s safety and help him or her with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and personal care to help enhance life quality. Call us today at 937.353.7997 to schedule your complimentary consultation.
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