When you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, or if you or someone in your family has recently been diagnosed, it can help to understand the disease and the progression it takes. This can make it easier to predict what’s to come and how to interact with your loved one throughout the stages of dementia.
Read on to find out more about the stages of Alzheimer’s and what to expect from the symptoms at each stage. Remember, though, that everyone is different and won’t all experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.
Early-stage Alzheimer’s, also referred to as mild Alzheimer’s, is where someone is likely to start noticing symptoms such as memory lapses. Family and friends may also notice these mild symptoms. However, the patient will usually be able to live independently as before since the symptoms have not progressed too far.
Specific symptoms may include:
- Forgetting the names of people or places you’re familiar with
- Difficulty choosing the right word in a conversation
- Worsened short-term memory
- Frequently losing or misplacing objects
- Difficulties with organization and planning
- Difficulties performing simple or familiar tasks
If you start to notice these symptoms in yourself or someone else, then it’s important to see a doctor to reach a diagnosis.
Symptoms worsen as the disease progresses into middle-stage Alzheimer’s. At this point, the patient will need a greater level of care as they start to lose their ability to live independently. In addition to memory problems, confusion and changes in behavior or personality become common during this stage.
This is usually the longest stage, so symptoms and their severity can vary greatly among middle-stage Alzheimer’s patients. Here are some of the main symptoms to expect:
- Wandering behavior
- Changes in personality
- Irritability, anger, or frustration
- Confusion, e.g. not knowing who or where they are
- Forgetting details or events from their past
Patients at this stage may need help with dressing, bathing, household chores, and medication management. When caring for a loved one with middle-stage Alzheimer’s, it helps to learn how to adapt activities to their abilities so they can still take part in the things they enjoy.
In the final stage of the disease, late-stage Alzheimer’s, patients have great difficulty communicating and may even struggle to control their movement. Their memory and cognitive skills have greatly declined at this point, which can lead to even greater confusion and distress.
Patients at this stage will need around-the-clock care. Difficulties controlling movement can also lead to problems with chewing and swallowing, which creates risks of choking and malnutrition. At this stage, it is important to keep the patient comfortable and still engage with them in ways that might be comforting, such as playing their favorite music.
Memory care can support Alzheimer’s patients throughout the various stages of the illness. If you need help caring for a loved one who was been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, then contact Brookstone of Clemmons for our advice and support.